Canberra’s iconic Skywhale returns home

Lachlan Roberts 6 March 2020 48

The famous Skywhale hot air balloon was designed by Patricia Piccinini. Photo: National Gallery of Australia.

Canberra’s world-famous Skywhale balloon is returning home and this time, it’s for good.

Thanks to an anonymous donation to the National Gallery of Australia, the gigantic hot air balloon will call Canberra home and will reappear in the capital’s skyline in March.

Commissioned by the ACT Government to mark Canberra’s centenary in 2013, the balloon has attracted its fair amount of love and controversy due to its bizarre design and exorbitant price tag.

National Gallery director Nick Mitzevich said the balloon made its way home thanks to its creator Patricia Piccinini after it was donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program.

“We are currently working with Patricia on a major commission and during our discussions with her, she suggested that she could help us bring Skywhale back,” Mr Mitzevich told Region Media. “I, of course, agreed and the work was donated to us with Patricia’s assistance.

“I am very pleased to now have the work in the National Collection, back to where it was initially commissioned. I think it is the perfect work for the National Collection because we are not bound by geography. It is our job to share the national collection here in Canberra and around the country.

“So we are the rightful place for it to be.”

Mr Mitzevich was ecstatic that the balloon was finally home.

“I love the Skywhale,” he said. “I am a huge fan. When I was the director of the Art Gallery of South Australia some years ago, I brought it to Adelaide. Over the last few years, it has toured around the country and also around the world and it has been loved by hundreds of thousands of people.”

Having featured around the globe, the airborne creature will grace Canberra’s skyline during next year’s balloon festival in March, before beginning a national tour for “her valedictorian lap”.

“We are really excited to show it over the Canberra skyline and then take it on a national tour around Australia,” Mr Mitzevich. “The brilliant thing about it is that we can take her to towns and cities that don’t have galleries so that is exciting.

“We are working with Patricia at the moment to develop an online education and learning facility, so when people see the Skywhale they can learn more about it online and learn why Patricia made Skywhale.

“Hopefully, they will learn a bit more about humanity and nurture.”

Skywhale will fly again in Canberra after being acquired by the National Gallery. Are you happy to see her back at home?

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48 Responses to Canberra’s iconic Skywhale returns home
Sammie Davis Sammie Davis 9:16 pm 19 Oct 19

The tittie whale is back.

Corey Karl Corey Karl 9:19 pm 19 Oct 19

The most ridiculous thing to spend money on that Ive ever seen !!

Rauny Worm Rauny Worm 9:22 pm 19 Oct 19

Finally..we accept our identity! 🤪🙃

Terry Cooper Terry Cooper 9:26 pm 19 Oct 19

Oh joy oh rapture 🤮🤮🤮

    Terry Cooper Terry Cooper 9:29 pm 19 Oct 19

    It’s amazing. Most people who like this abomination bear a striking resemblance to it.

    Paddy O'Keeffe Paddy O'Keeffe 9:31 pm 19 Oct 19

    I have no idea why some people think it’s “great” in any sort of a way. It makes me sick as per emoji’s.

    Terry Smith Terry Smith 3:56 pm 20 Oct 19

    Terry Cooper awesome target practice for the RAAF😁😆😆

Gray Jay Gray Jay 9:27 pm 19 Oct 19

Didn't we pay for it in the first place?

Rob Sanders Rob Sanders 9:31 pm 19 Oct 19

* infamous

Adele Craven Adele Craven 9:32 pm 19 Oct 19

I don’t get how ACT buys SkyWhale but never actually owns it, pays to operate it and then it gets donated to a national institution which just happens to be in the ACT. Maybe RiotAct could do a story explaining how that all worked.

    Jorge Gatica Jorge Gatica 9:37 pm 19 Oct 19

    Adele Craven it’s like they buy clean energy and tell us we are running on 100% renewables but we are mostly powered by coal

    Andrew Dudley Andrew Dudley 10:58 pm 19 Oct 19

    Adele Craven it’s been owned by the artist and toured around until now as far as I’m aware. I think it was in Melbourne for the last few years. The ACT never previously bought it, it was just here for a while when it was completed.

    Adele Craven Adele Craven 9:00 am 20 Oct 19

    Andrew Dudley

Donna Burns Donna Burns 9:33 pm 19 Oct 19

That’s a shame!

Karl Kovach Karl Kovach 9:39 pm 19 Oct 19

Titties in the sky!

Kerry Crampton Kerry Crampton 10:19 pm 19 Oct 19

The gift that no one wanted........😂

Catia Rizio Catia Rizio 10:21 pm 19 Oct 19

Alex Pietrzak you return to CBR then skywhale returns what a coincidence

Les Parducci Les Parducci 10:21 pm 19 Oct 19

skytits, it's called skytits

Tash Daniel Tash Daniel 10:23 pm 19 Oct 19

Jim Jim Jim Jim 7:53 am 20 Oct 19

Why is anyone surprised when the ‘sculptures’ dotted around the place, like Belconnen’s infamous ‘owl’, represent how public money is being spent.

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 11:00 am 20 Oct 19

    The more people complain about the penis owl, the more I love it. Art is meant to elicit an emotional response and this one has hit the bullseye.

    Jim Jim Jim Jim 7:00 pm 20 Oct 19

    Lin Van Oevelen only in the waste of funding not artistic response...

    Cynthuja Pac Cynthuja Pac 6:00 pm 22 Oct 19

    The amount of money spent cleaning 🦉 graffiti is better spent on other things. (I think 50% of the graffiti clean up budget).

Helen Bastin Mulley Helen Bastin Mulley 8:38 am 20 Oct 19

That thing is just so ugly

David Brown David Brown 9:36 am 20 Oct 19

Why is it iconic? Sure we paid for it but it was actually in Canberra for only a very short time. I can’t see how it represents us at all. 🤔

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 10:58 am 20 Oct 19

    Because it was commissioned for the centenary celebrations.

    David Brown David Brown 4:39 pm 20 Oct 19

    Lin Van Oevelen True but how does that make it iconic?

Lachie McOmish Lachie McOmish 10:26 am 20 Oct 19

Artemis seems to be the inspiration. I won’t go in to it here but it might pay to have a look at the myths associated with Artemis and therefor by extension with Skywhale

Keran Niquet Keran Niquet 1:06 pm 20 Oct 19

Why? I do not know one soul who likes this abomination and wants it in Canberra!

Peter Fogwell Peter Fogwell 2:48 pm 20 Oct 19

Ahh, the mammary mammal lol.

Lauren Finnerty Lauren Finnerty 2:58 pm 20 Oct 19

Connor Haas Charlie Martin sky whale!!

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