The Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art opened on April 20th, and one particular piece has become a sensation: a life-sized inflatable bouncy Stonehenge. It’s called Sacrilege and was designed by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller. He worked with Inflatable World Leisure for two months to create this masterpiece of public art, and although you might think some Scots would be displeased to have an icon of English history on Glasgow Green, in fact people of all ages are having a complete blast on it because it’s undeniably awesome.
The installation is deflated at 6pm every night and re-inflated in minutes the following morning. Project manager James Hutchinson said it had caught the imagination of Glaswegians.
“I think it would take a mean heart not to smile as you are passing by,” he said. “People have been wanting to get on and we have had all ages from seven to 70. Nobody knows what Stonehenge is for. It doesn’t belong to anybody. Not the Druids or those interested in British or English history or Glaswegians.”
“We come to the green a lot and I was surprised to see it and wondered what it was, but I think it’s great,” says Robert Barnes, 72, who lives locally. “My grandson’s been playing on it and I can’t get him off.”
Deller envisioned it as both an interactive public sculpture and a tactile, playful way to introduce ancient history to young children. The constraints of preservation often by necessity keep people at a distance, including at Stonehenge where visitors are no longer allowed to roam amidst the sarsen stones. A version you can bounce on brings the remote into the immediate.
ForArgyll’s Paul Hadfield has written a detailed review of inflatable Stonehenge’s bouncing good times. Key points:
There were bouncings, boundings, hurlings against the megaliths, collapses for a breather, group bounces, hide and seeks.
You can’t get near the real thing any more but oh boy, you can get up close and very personal with this one.
The ‘stones’ are surprisingly hefty. You can throw yourself at them with impunity – but you know you’ve met. [...]
You can see people starting off just bouncing, then getting more inventive, then teaming up in impromptu mass playfulness and daft game strategies, then splitting and going off in separate directions but somehow lighter footed than when they arrived.
Sacrilege will remain in Glasgow until the festival ends on May 7th, then it will travel to various locations in the UK until it arrives in London for the Olympic Games.
Here’s video of Funhenge guaranteed to make you want to play on it even more than reading about it did: