‘Blow Up Art Den Haag’ sees five international artists creating temporary inflatable artworks in the streets of The Hague, The Netherlands. Over the next 3 weeks, visitors are invited to follow a walking route around the museum district of the city to discover the pieces in a mixture of prime historical locations and hidden corners.

For the exhibition, leading UK textile artist Steve Messam has created two new large-scale, site-specific works:


The Plein.

The work consists of a series of inflatable spikes around the statue of William I in the main square outside the parliament building. A major landmark statue in the city, William I is the founder of the Netherlands as an independent country. The large green spikes temporarily transform the monument and change the energy of the surrounding square in an almost surreal gesture.

Curator Mary Hessing describes it as “…like the crown of the Statue of Liberty has landed on, and embraced, the statue of Willem van Oranje, who is portrayed as a fervent advocate of civil and religious freedom. Steve Messam’s frivolous intervention adds an exciting colorful touch to the honorable statue and the Plein. When the lights come on at night, the dialogue is even more playful.”

Tunnel, an installation in the 15th Century Gevangenpoort, The Hague - Photo by Pim Top-Hague & Partners 2
Tunnel, an installation in the 15th Century Gevangenpoort, The Hague – All Photos by Pim Top-Hague & Partners


On the Gevangenpoort (Prisoners Gate), Buitenhof

Dating from the 15th century, the Gevangenpoort was once the main gateway into the Binnenhof (now the Houses of Parliament), and the most infamous prison in Holland. In the 1920s, the buildings to one side of the gateway were demolished to create a wider road for the increase in traffic and subsequent trams.

‘Tunnel’ reimagines that sense of gateway, the artwork passing through the archway, gripping the architecture by air pressure alone. The sense of a passage is further explored by inviting visitors to pass through the artwork as a more restricted and intimate space. The organic bulbous forms at either end suggest an oozing of the piece through the gateway and contrast with the strict geometric lines of the architecture, while the color echoes the verdigris roofs around the square.

Technical details
“Oranje” – Ripstop Nylon. 16m x 15m x 3m
“Tunnel” – Polyester. 9.5m x 4m x 4m