A tip: go see Martin Creed’s retrospective at the Hayward in the company of a child. I didn’t, but I tagged on to a merry gaggle of five-year-olds being guided round by their mums. I watched as they pointed at the enormous rotating beam with a neon sign that reads ‘MOTHER’. ‘Jump up and touch it, Mummy,’ said one girl.
As we carried on, we came across a machine playing rude raspberry sounds. Peals of laughter rang out. Nearby, a man was playing the piano slowly, semitone by semitone. The little girl in the tutu tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he was part of the show. He was, he said.
Upstairs, the mothers heeded the warning suggesting those under 18 avoid the outdoor video installation. I dashed out to see it, and won’t ruin the surprise, but it’s an uplifting one. A sculpture made of loo rolls brought more laughter, as did a Ford Focus car, which every couple of minutes burst into life — horn tooting, doors opening, windscreen wipers squirting.
The pièce de résistance was Creed’s ‘Half the air in a given space’ (above). It’s a room packed with 7,000 white balloons. And what fun it is; a gaseous, bouncy world that could go POP at any point. The show’s title is What’s the point of it?. Try to be too clever, and it will frustrate you. But go along with a youthful, open mind and it will make more sense.