Why burst balloons?

‘I don’t get what these burst balloon pictures are trying to say?’

I’m in my final year of a Fine Art degree at the University of Wolverhampton. Over the last few months I’ve been looking at lost and discarded objects.

I recently decided to focus my quest on collecting dropped abandoned and burst balloons. I see beauty in these fragments of what was once a much-desired object. It interests me that something of so little economic value when inflated has a huge value to many and brings joy to people. However, once the air has gone (something of no value as well), the remains are discarded. This got me asking: how can something so widespread and valueless make such a difference to an object’s value? The balloon cannot function without the skin. It cannot function without the air. We can’t keep the air, but we could keep the skin but we don’t. I want to know what happens to all the discarded balloons in the world. I think the streets of the world must be littered with similar abandoned skins, all equally colourful. I wonder, has anyone ever thought, before now, to collect discarded, burst balloon skins?

Since looking for lost, discarded balloons around my home town of Shrewsbury and in Wolverhampton, I have found quite a few (over 20 to date in less than a month). They vary in quality, condition, colour and origin. I’m interested to know the stories behind these burst fragments. This blog is a log of these found fragments.

Being of an arty disposition, since finding these bits of burst balloon I have been making still-life studies of some of them in pen, paint and plasticine. I may yet try to think of other ways to represent them.

A painting of a burst ballon

A painting of a burst balloon

Balloon drawing

Balloon drawing

Balloon in plasticine

Balloon in plasticine

I’ve also made a short video about my obsession (I can’t resist the urge to turn art into video).

I want to know the history behind my findings. How did they burst? Who owned them? Why did the owner so readily drop the remains when they were probably so happy to have the balloons in their inflated state?

The aim of my quest is to use such ordinary objects to provoke thought in others. I will never find out the stories of the ones I’ve found but there might be more stories to discover. I also want to know: do other people create narratives around objects in the way that I do?

Ultimately, I’d like to create a part-narrative, part-pictorial, part-just-plain-geeky map of the Burst Balloons of Britain. I would like these objects to be valued, potentially as museum pieces.

So welcome to my archive of the Burst Balloons of Britain. I hope you enjoy browsing the archive. Please help me in my quest to find abandoned burst balloons. Please use this page to submit your own findings.