Five must-see Martin Creed works

Published 1 February 2014

We guide you through the fascinating world of Martin Creed with our five favourites from the Hayward Gallery's new show.

The first retrospective of the artist's career, What's the Point of It?, brings together some of the most famous – not to mention controversial – works produced by Martin Creed over the last 25 years. From balloons to broccoli, here are five of the standout exhibits that you really mustn't miss.

1. Work No. 1092: Mothers

It's not often an installation comes with a Health and Safety warning, but then of course, Creed is not like other artists. A 12-metre-long, two-metre-high monument of swirling neon, ​it careers unnervingly on a circular path just a splinter above head level. The piece encapsulates the artist's vision of 'mothers spinning out of control' and, much like the archetypal matriach, it is intended to be both 'big and scary'.

2. Work No. 200: Half the air in a given space

An engulfing sea of 7,000 balloons, this walk-through installation is characteristically Creed. Enormously fun, yet at the same time driven by a clever concept, the artist has sought to make the air 'visible' by precisely measuring and capturing half of it inside the balloons.

3. Work No. 227: Lights going on and off

Arguably his most famous work, the 2001 Turner Prize-winning installation consists of a light going on and then off again in repeated five-second cycles. Compulsive, powerful and uncompromisingly simple; if you want to get to the heart of what Creed's art is all about, this is the piece to see. No. 227 was ArtFunded in 2013.

4. Work No. 1000: 1,000 prints made with broccoli

Creed finds comfort in repetition, revisiting themes, colours, sounds, shapes and structures throughout his work. This is never more evident than in the broccoli series, where the cut vegetable is dipped and printed over and over in different colours and materials, producing a set of images that are at once uniformly similar, yet individually unique.

5. Work No. 610: Sick film

Martin Creed has said that part of living is coming to terms with horrible feelings. 'The problem with horrible feelings is you can't paint them. But horrible vomit – you can film that.' And he has. It's a difficult piece to watch but highlights Creed's ability to provoke psychological reactions from his viewer, whether that be joy, despair, anger or as in this case, utter disgust.

Martin Creed: What's the Point of It? is showing at the Hayward Gallery until 27 April 2014. Get 50% off admission with your National Art Pass.

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