Monday, January 21st, 2019

The Skywhale Returns to Australia’s Skies, and Its Creator Braces for Impact

Published on October 18, 2018 by   ·   No Comments

SYDNEY, Australia — With a head like a turtle, a body like a giant cetacean and ten bulbous, hanging breasts, one thing is certain: It is hard to ignore the Skywhale.

When the hot-air balloon debuted in May 2013, looming over Canberra for the Australian capital’s centenary celebrations, critics said the “floating sculpture” created by Patricia Piccinini did not represent the city. Some blushed at the scale of its udders and at its six-figure cost.

Well get ready, Australia. It’s back.

On Nov. 22, weather permitting, the Skywhale will float over the picturesque Yarra Valley in Victoria. The area is famous for ballooning, and the flight will coincide with the opening of the exhibition “Patricia Piccinini and Joy Hester: Through Love …” at the TarraWarra Museum of Art.

Ms. Piccinini, an Australian artist known worldwide for her hyperreal hybrid silicone sculptures, said that she is looking forward to the Skywhale’s return. A test flight took place two weeks ago.

“It’s thrilling to just have her in the air because she’s such a beautiful presence,” Ms. Piccinini said of the Skywhale.
Australia’s initial rejection of the balloon sculpture has come to be seen by many as a telling example of the country’s discomfort with the avant-garde, or even just the unconventional.


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