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Meet the SkyWhale, here to join the Centenary Celebrations

Canberra100 9 May 2013 85


Think of Canberra and visions of hot air balloons drifting over the lake on a crisp autumn morning come to mind.

It’s therefore no surprise that in our Centenary year a hot air balloon sculpture has been commissioned to celebrate Canberra’s love of, and reputation for, hot air ballooning. What might be a surprise however is the form that this commission has taken.

Centenary Creative Director Robyn Archer AO aim with this commission was to offer the highly visible canvas of a hot-air balloon to an Australian artist.

Enter internationally renowned artist Patricia Piccinini, who grew up in Canberra attending school, college and university here. Patricia says she grew up as a ‘real migrant kid’ in Canberra without privilege, and yet was exposed to a level of information and learning which has fuelled her spirit and her work.

“Patricia Piccinini is one of Australia’s most successful sculptors. Her work is seen in major collections in Australia, and a survey show broke all attendance records for the Tasmanian Museum and Gallery,” Robyn said.

“To my delight Patricia was immediately responsive to the idea of her work in a new form, and insisted that it would not be a novelty but a continuation of her ouevre and its years of investigation into the way life has evolved.”

“This is exactly what the new work is, and we are so proud to have been able to find the resources to help this great artist make it happen. That Patricia was educated in Canberra also makes this a celebration of the fine talent that the national capital has and continues to produce.”

The Skywhale will be outside the National Gallery of Australia on Saturday at 8.30am, and on Monday it will make its first flight over Canberra.

Look out for The Skywhale over Canberra on Monday.


  • The Skywhale balloon weighs about 500kg with fuel and people (pilot and two passengers) on board.
  • It is 22.7m tall.
  • The balloon is 34.4m long from nose to tail.
  • It took 1880 man and woman hours of work to make.
  • 256 different colours make up the Skywhale. 
  • The Skywhale used 3535 metres of fabric.
  • Approximately 3.3 million stitches hold the Skywhale together.
  • The Skywhale took seven months to design and build from start to finish.
  • Six people were needed to stitch the Skywhale together.
  • A team of 16 created the Skywhale

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85 Responses to Meet the SkyWhale, here to join the Centenary Celebrations
1 2 3 5 Next »
grunge_hippy grunge_hippy 8:27 pm 09 May 13

another example how the whole centenary thing has been a giant let down.

(did you see what I did there…. balloon…. let down….. oh come on!)

but really, that thing is hideous.

switch switch 6:55 pm 09 May 13

I for one welcome our Giant Titty Whale Overlord.

dungfungus dungfungus 6:52 pm 09 May 13

Paul0075 said :

I think it needs a bra.

Someone owes an apology to Woody Allen

dungfungus dungfungus 6:48 pm 09 May 13

Stanhope will have an orgasm when he sees this!

MissChief MissChief 6:29 pm 09 May 13

Please DO NOT let that thing loose on Canberra, there are small children about.

dpm dpm 6:04 pm 09 May 13

Much like the ‘totally awesome and successful’ Canberra day celebrations, this is yet another example of how detached from reality the centenary ctte are!
Let me spell it out for you:
Dearth vader balloon=awesome
This=bad. Really bad.
Im guessing everything about the centenary *must* have a pretentious aspect to it, so it truly encapsulates the Canberra ethos Hahaha!

krome krome 5:52 pm 09 May 13

Just what Canberra’s fugly art needed, to become mobile…

fabforty fabforty 5:52 pm 09 May 13

Oh FFS. This is the best we can get for $170,000 ?

This monstrosity was clearly chosen by the same group responsible for all our other public ‘art’.

I think even a giant floating penis owl would be preferable to this.

bundah bundah 5:41 pm 09 May 13

Pork Hunt said :

That is the ugliest thing I have ever seen, animal, vegetable or mineral. It’s the people on the ground who need spew bags not the ones in it…

I must quote Col Kurtz “horror has a face….and you must make a friend of horror”. The apocalypse cometh!

Pork Hunt Pork Hunt 5:25 pm 09 May 13

That is the ugliest thing I have ever seen, animal, vegetable or mineral. It’s the people on the ground who need spew bags not the ones in it…

Blen_Carmichael Blen_Carmichael 4:43 pm 09 May 13

Riaction said :

So this is where Canberra Milk comes from…?

Yeah, or there’s a re-run of the old Total Recall.

Deref Deref 4:41 pm 09 May 13

It’s certainly different. I’m intrigued as to why the gigaboobs don’t float above it though – how are they held down?

Hey – since I helped to pay for it, does that mean I get to ride in it free? 😀

Ben_Dover Ben_Dover 4:41 pm 09 May 13

“Look out for The Skywhale over Canberra on Monday.

Air-rifles at the ready!!!

Ben_Dover Ben_Dover 4:38 pm 09 May 13

beardedclam said :

Should get people talking about Canberra.

As in; “have you seen what those daft bastards in Canberra have wasted a stack of money on!”

Why is there no public consultation on these money wasting ideas?

GardeningGirl GardeningGirl 4:09 pm 09 May 13

9-12 according to this. I suppose one Canberra100 writer was looking at the transport schedule or something and another Canberra100 writer was actually thinking about the information the public are interested in. Do we have any guesses/estimates/approximations about where it will fly on Monday? (Bearing in mind that’s even more complicated by the wind.)

Riaction said :

So this is where Canberra Milk comes from…?

Haha, love it!

Paul0075 Paul0075 3:50 pm 09 May 13

I think it needs a bra.

beardedclam beardedclam 3:37 pm 09 May 13

That’s a beauty, I like it. Should get people talking about Canberra.

Riaction Riaction 3:33 pm 09 May 13

So this is where Canberra Milk comes from…?

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