Artistic ‘balloon modelling’ as art

“When I speak about balloon-design, I’m sometimes overwhelmed with emotions,” admits Irina Tkatsevich. “It’s a whole world! It’s difficult to believe but, due to balloons, several people have become famous — even registered in the Guinness Book of World Records.”

By Gennady Andreev

People who create figures from balloons, as Irina does, are called ‘twisters’ — transforming long balloons (‘sausages’) into the most amazing models. In the evening, after work, she arms herself with a pump and several dozen balloons, to bring her fantasies to life. You might think that only flowers or poodles are possible, but the sky is the limit. “It’s like a construction kit, only more flexible,” explains Irina.

“Thumbelina is one of my favourite works; it even won a contest of dresses,” notes Irina, showing me a colourful image on her mobile phone screen. At first sight, it looks rather like a flower. Only on looking carefully, do I see a boy, girl, mole and beetle intertwined, creating a ‘dress’: the heroes of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale.

“Such works are spectacular and always arouse interest among spectators,” Irina smiles. “I’ve already sent a letter to Belarusian designer Sasha Varlamov, suggesting that we co-operate. These air-inflated dresses could be demonstrated before any fashion show, immediately drawing the audience in.”

Among the photos Irina shows me is that of a green, cylindrical hat — one of her first works. Around seven years ago, she saw works by American aero-designers, which caught her eye and changed her ideas regarding contemporary art. Irina bought some ‘how to’ guides from abroad and practised for hours. As a result, her air-inflated ‘sausages’ began to appear as true works of balloon art.

Since then, Irina has created over 100 compositions, with many winning international contests. Her greatest, and biggest, work is a 4m tall clown on a bicycle, which took first prize at a festival in Italy.

“I haven’t yet reached world championship level,” notes Irina. “I attended a festival in Belgium where I saw a model of two football players with a huge net; it won a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the number of balloons used and for its height. My record still lies ahead!”

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