arts and design

Skywhalepapa and his children to take flight over Canberra

A Skywhale family will take to the skies over Canberra in February, with the National Gallery of Australia confirming the maiden flight of another hot air balloon sculpture.

Skywhalepapa, the companion of the bulbous and 10-bosomed Skywhale, will take off on 6 February.

In 2013 the 100-foot Skywhale, by the artist Patricia Piccinini, was launched to mark the city’s centenary. The reaction was far different to the typical criticisms of Canberra – certainly, nobody considered it boring.

The new balloon was announced in 2019 and bookings for an event to see its first flight are expected to open this month.

“Skywhalepapa is quite different from the Skywhale,” Piccinini told Guardian Australia in 2019. “He has these bulky arms that he uses to gather and protect the babies.

“He is taller and more vertical. I’m not sure if he’s traditionally masculine but he does have a certain strength, I think, but also gentleness. He is surrounded by a group of Skywhale children … being looked after by the male.”

Two other flights are planned for 8 March and 3 April, weather permitting. The sculptures will also float across the skies of Australia as a National Gallery touring exhibition.


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