Heaven

Left Bank Leeds
Nylon PVC and air, 8m(L) x 5.2(W) x 4.5m(H)
2021

Photograph: Jazz Jennings

Heaven is a new interactive artwork for Left Bank that is an immersive and joyful experience for people of all ages.

Located in the nave of the former church, Heaven is a large, colourful, inflatable structure co-designed with children from the local community. Participants can run, jump, hide, race, climb, dance and chill on the artwork, play solo or with others.

The title of the work is informed by the Christian concept of heaven and its parallels with play. In the Bible, Christ says we must become like children to enter the kingdom of heaven (Luke 18:15-17, Matthew 18:3). This implies a sense of innocence, humility, fearlessness and open mindedness – all attitudes employed when we play!

Heaven is a place where people can come together to have fun with friends, resolve conflict, take risks and meet new people. It’s an opportunity to draw down heaven to earth and to transcend the here and now in a moment of joy and togetherness.

The Sculpture

The sculpture is based on childrens’ drawings of heaven which are colourful, free flowing and full of energy. I’ve teased out elements from these – scribbles, patterns and shapes – and translated them into 3D objects on a base that can be climbed and jumped upon. The overall result is a jamboree of abstract forms that wobble and jostle when played upon, eliciting shrieks of joy and laughter.

The aim has been to create a structure that is a sculpture in its own right, but is fully playable. From my research into the history of pneumatic art dating back to the 1960s, many artworks are conceptually interesting or visually arresting but are not very playable; leisure inflatables on the other hand are fully interactive but often ugly, garish and symmetrical.

Heaven offers a different approach by providing a beautiful object that is site specific and fully interactive. It is accessible from all sides and suitable for all ages. It is also available for both indoor and outdoor use. Heaven includes crash mats around the base of the main inflatable plus three of the pillars for added protection.

In addition to the main structure, there is also a play mat and loose parts for babies and very young children who are crawling and cruising. These again are based on children’s drawings and features mounds, tubes, cylinders and 3D lines. These elements are not fixed and can be moved around the space or even onto the central artwork.

Not just for kids!