Steve Messam

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Date: September 2008

Client: Cumbria Tourism

Location: Buttermere & Crow Park, Keswick, Cumbria.UK

Dimensions: 20m x 15m x 12m

Materials: Foil laminated textile

Fabricator: Cameron Balloons

Further info: Drop documentary on YouTube


A landscape installation commissioned by Cumbria Tourism to launch their Cultural Tourism campaign. Drop is a giant reflective inflatable raindrop - the size of a three-storey building that travelled to a handful of ‘Viewing Stations’ identified by Thomas West in his 1779 ‘Guide to the Lakes’ - the first tourist guidebook in the UK. The piece reflected the surrounding landscape, distorting it and softening the image, in much the same way the early tourists viewed the mountains through a Claude Glass. The act of photographing the piece - which almost every visitor did - echoed the gestures of the early tourists viewing the world at arms’ length. The piece had a number of testing design concerns to overcome, including providing sufficient ballast for such a huge inflatable work in a windy part of the UK, eliminating the possibility of cross contamination of lake water between sites and installing it on remote site with only one vehicle movement.