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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
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Ben_Dover Ben_Dover 7:22 am 12 May 13

Mr Evil said :

Zed said :

the resemblence to Katy is uncanny!

Actually, to tell you the truth, it reminded me more of Rosemary Follett.

Come off it, it’s Vickie Dunne on a nudist beach!

Oh, “publicity for Canberra”?????

“Come to Canberra, we’ve wasted $300,000 on a titty carp which wont be flying here!!!”

GardeningGirl GardeningGirl 11:49 am 12 May 13

Ben_Dover said :

. . Oh, “publicity for Canberra”?????

“Come to Canberra, we’ve wasted $300,000 on a titty carp which wont be flying here!!!”

Googling to see how far the fame has spread, I found an article in CNN’s travel section. Great photos, Mt Arapiles looks amazing, makes me want to visit Victoria.

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