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THE SKYWHALE UNVEIL

By Canberra100 - 10 May 2013 42

skywhale

With perfect weather conditions predicted, Centenary of Canberra commission The Skywhale will make her first Canberra flight tomorrow morning, lifting off from outside the National Gallery of Australia.

The Skywhale is a 34m long, 23m high hot-air balloon sculpture designed by renowned artist and former Canberran Patricia Piccinini. It is at least twice as big as a standard hot-air balloon, weighs half a tonne and used more than 3.5km of fabric. It took 16 people seven months to design and make.

Since her reveal yesterday The Skywhale has sparked national and international interest, and has taken social media by storm.

The Skywhale will be officially launched by Centenary of Canberra Creative Director Robyn Archer AO and Patricia Piccinini at the National Gallery of Australia as part of a sculpture symposium. She will also fly over Canberra on Monday morning.

Robyn Archer said that she wanted to offer the highly visible canvas of a balloon to an Australian artist as a Centenary of Canberra commission.

Patricia Piccinini is one of Australia’s best-known contemporary artists and works in a variety of media including painting, sculpture, video, sound and digital prints. She says that 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.

WHAT: The Skywhale unveil

DATE: Saturday, 11 May 2013

TIME: 8.30am – The Skywhale tethered, 9.20am – The Skywhale will make her first Canberra flight (weather permitting)

WHERE: National Gallery of Australia. Off Parkes Place East, adjacent to the main entry.

What’s Your opinion?


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THE SKYWHALE UNVEIL
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dungfungus 7:22 pm 12 May 13

Masquara said :

I find it interesting that the sculpture itself needed no Canberra reference as a Canberra Centenary commission – yet they are at pains to point out the artist’s connection with Canberra. I don’t quite get the point there. Are they saying that the tender included a requirement that the artist have a Canberra connection, and not the work? If not – why mention, as it would have just been happenstance and nothing to do with the Centenary that Patricia happened to have a personal connection?

(And I LOVE the balloon sculpture)

What tender?

dungfungus 6:23 pm 12 May 13

MrNurseRatchet said :

As a gay man I am outraged that the whale didn’t have a massive schlong instead of a bunch of t*ts hanging off the side.

Am doubly outraged that there is clearly a copyright infringement-type thingy going on here with Final Fantasy X’s Sin Whale. Please see:

http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100512024222/finalfantasy/images/8/85/Sin_in_zanarkand_ruins.png

and

http://i722.photobucket.com/albums/ww228/BluShadow/Sinwithwings.jpg

See what I mean?!?

” massive schlong?”
You mean “dork”, dork.

Masquara 5:15 pm 12 May 13

I find it interesting that the sculpture itself needed no Canberra reference as a Canberra Centenary commission – yet they are at pains to point out the artist’s connection with Canberra. I don’t quite get the point there. Are they saying that the tender included a requirement that the artist have a Canberra connection, and not the work? If not – why mention, as it would have just been happenstance and nothing to do with the Centenary that Patricia happened to have a personal connection?

(And I LOVE the balloon sculpture)

GardeningGirl 1:11 pm 12 May 13

poetix said :

. A little boy was taken on Skywhale’s first Canberra flight, being helped into the basket at the last moment. What a memory for him! .

How did that happen? I thought it only takes two passengers? Did they not think of sending any passengers and decided to add one at the last minute or did they add an extra one because they thought he didn’t weigh too much or what? And what about age limits? I’d like to think it was a fantastic experience some little kid will always remember but it sounds strange?

Diggety said :

I think the point your missing mate is she is obviously taking the piss out of people like you, the government and the harshest critics. (bare with me)…

Throughout history, artists have purposefully delivered outrageously poor works for state/religous/activist commissioned projects. They do it for several reasons: a) to take the piss out of the society paying for it, b) to earn reliable income, c) to highlight the gap between inspired art and top-down state-sponsered endevours, and d) to expose the problems of a socitey.

Inevitably, some of the more incredulous in our society will inflate their ego via smug discourse combined with a minorty consensus of art appresiation. In a few decades they may or may not realise the joke was on them.

The feeling I have that it’s gotta be a joke on us has been growing stronger. This rings true to me.

MrNurseRatchet 12:54 pm 12 May 13

As a gay man I am outraged that the whale didn’t have a massive schlong instead of a bunch of t*ts hanging off the side.

Am doubly outraged that there is clearly a copyright infringement-type thingy going on here with Final Fantasy X’s Sin Whale. Please see:

http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100512024222/finalfantasy/images/8/85/Sin_in_zanarkand_ruins.png

and

http://i722.photobucket.com/albums/ww228/BluShadow/Sinwithwings.jpg

See what I mean?!?

Jethro 12:30 pm 12 May 13

kyhigh said :

The Skywhale launch was ridiculously awesome! Canberrans that didn’t go are going to be embarrassed when this thing draws significantly larger crowds at every other state and territory it visits…

I’ll second that. There was a lot of joy in the crowd yesterday morning, and I’m glad I was there instead of sitting at home working myself up into a self-righteous leather over it.

For those of us who were there, watching that beast take to the air will be a long lasting memory from the Centenary Celebrations – much longer than any of the fireworks displays that would have cost a whole lot more but offered nothing different or truly memorable.

To be in the crowd at the moment of launch was fantastic – men cheered in delight, old people gasped and took a step back, small children pointed and giggled nervously, toddlers salivated and called for bitty, a few teenaged boys lurked uncomfortably at the back of the crowd, not sure where to look.

The whimsical beast rose majestically into the sky, her countenance gentle, but slightly sad – as if she knew she was despised by the city she was made for. Her journey took her across the lake and towards the National Museum, where she came to rest, almost as if she longed to be with another one of Canberra’s unloved creations.

Years into the future people will remember the day that Sky Whale took flight and they will ask, ‘where were you when it happened?’

I will stand proud and declare, ‘I was there.’

Diggety 10:35 am 12 May 13

Are there any interviews with Puccinini about Skywhale?

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 10:21 pm 11 May 13

Deref said :

poetix said :

I found the sight of the balloon very moving. It is a peaceful and whimsical creature, and the vitriol being unleashed upon it is quite amazing. It is unsettling in some ways, evading easy categorisation, but how people can look at wings of breasts and become apoplectic is beyond me.

A little boy was taken on Skywhale’s first Canberra flight, being helped into the basket at the last moment. What a memory for him!

This is the Centenary event that has shown the most imagination and courage. There was a real feeling of support at the launch, as if people were helping the whale up into the air, above all the negativity that has been directed towards this mysterious and playful creation.

God bless Skywhale and all who Jonah themselves!

I agree, Poetix. Once I got over the initial impression it grew on me and now I love it. I’m going to be sorry to see it go. I wish it could become a permanent fixture.

Really, with the money paid, it should become a permanent fixture.

I love it. Not sure where I think it should be anchored, but got ham, i would love to see it as a permanent art here.

Deref 9:30 pm 11 May 13

poetix said :

I found the sight of the balloon very moving. It is a peaceful and whimsical creature, and the vitriol being unleashed upon it is quite amazing. It is unsettling in some ways, evading easy categorisation, but how people can look at wings of breasts and become apoplectic is beyond me.

A little boy was taken on Skywhale’s first Canberra flight, being helped into the basket at the last moment. What a memory for him!

This is the Centenary event that has shown the most imagination and courage. There was a real feeling of support at the launch, as if people were helping the whale up into the air, above all the negativity that has been directed towards this mysterious and playful creation.

God bless Skywhale and all who Jonah themselves!

I agree, Poetix. Once I got over the initial impression it grew on me and now I love it. I’m going to be sorry to see it go. I wish it could become a permanent fixture.

Diggety 9:12 pm 11 May 13

johnboy said :

Those of you who have never heard of an artist who has exhibited at the Venice Bienalle really need to stop thinking your opinion of an artist’s stature is of any interest to anyone.

Your opinion on the validity of this work is one thing. Your own ignorance is not a proof of anything.

Most of us are well of Patricia’s work JB,her work is hard to ignore, – it’s really good – collectively, a Canberran success.

I think the point your missing mate is she is obviously taking the piss out of people like you, the government and the harshest critics. (bare with me)…

Throughout history, artists have purposefully delivered outrageously poor works for state/religous/activist commissioned projects. They do it for several reasons: a) to take the piss out of the society paying for it, b) to earn reliable income, c) to highlight the gap between inspired art and top-down state-sponsered endevours, and d) to expose the problems of a socitey.

Inevitably, some of the more incredulous in our society will inflate their ego via smug discourse combined with a minorty consensus of art appresiation. In a few decades they may or may not realise the joke was on them.

    johnboy 9:38 pm 11 May 13

    I’m referring solely to the mouthbreathers huffing “nevah ‘eard of ‘er”

Pork Hunt 6:54 pm 11 May 13

poetix said :

I found the sight of the balloon very moving. It is a peaceful and whimsical creature, and the vitriol being unleashed upon it is quite amazing. It is unsettling in some ways, evading easy categorisation, but how people can look at wings of breasts and become apoplectic is beyond me.

A little boy was taken on Skywhale’s first Canberra flight, being helped into the basket at the last moment. What a memory for him!

This is the Centenary event that has shown the most imagination and courage. There was a real feeling of support at the launch, as if people were helping the whale up into the air, above all the negativity that has been directed towards this mysterious and playful creation.

God bless Skywhale and all who Jonah themselves!

Mysterious and playful indeed.
I wonder if the designer intended that the boobs (or cum filled condoms, as I prefer) would in fact float horizontally when the balloon was inflated for flight?
It seems that the air in the boobs/frangers is cooler than the air in the rest of the envelope/french letter and that is why they sag.
While I admire your enthusiasm for this aircraft Mrs P, personally I feel that everytime it takes to the sky it should have a giant paper bag on its head…

Ronald_Coase 6:47 pm 11 May 13

Typically, I don’t rail against elitism, but this such an obvious example of elite taste (ie, something most don’t appreciate irrespective of its artistic merit) triumphing over the majority that it is insulting. The balloon is meant to celebrate this city – not art in general. If we want to be challenged, it is simple to go to the NGA, portrait gallery etc. Why should we have this thrust in front of us as an apparent representation of us when it simply a big, ugly piece of crap? And, yes I did go to see it before i judged.

smcphill 6:28 pm 11 May 13

snowygurl said :

On a more positive artistic note, Wolfgang Buttress’ new astronomy sculpture in the ANU science precinct is worth having a gander at (in my humble opinion). That’s my definition of intriguing.

Interesting yes, but is it particularly provoking?

(Offtopic, but I’ll steam on ahead regardless), I have a (tiny) problem with the design of Buttress’ speckled ball: the internal globe gets *filthy* after a few days of dust/dew, and there is no (easy) way to clean it. After a few days the intended visual effect is ruined by grime.

Saw a couple of guys trying to strap rags onto the end of sticks to clean it. Just think about the size of the internal globe, the size of the holes, the cleaning range a rag-on-the-end-of-a-stick would have… that’s a lot of time wasted on cleaning something that only gets dirty due to poor design.

poetix 6:13 pm 11 May 13

I found the sight of the balloon very moving. It is a peaceful and whimsical creature, and the vitriol being unleashed upon it is quite amazing. It is unsettling in some ways, evading easy categorisation, but how people can look at wings of breasts and become apoplectic is beyond me.

A little boy was taken on Skywhale’s first Canberra flight, being helped into the basket at the last moment. What a memory for him!

This is the Centenary event that has shown the most imagination and courage. There was a real feeling of support at the launch, as if people were helping the whale up into the air, above all the negativity that has been directed towards this mysterious and playful creation.

God bless Skywhale and all who Jonah themselves!

Ronald_Coase 4:25 pm 11 May 13

When’s Robyn leaving? Perhaps we could give her a genuine farewell complete with skywhale-inspired birdman rally and ask her to take the first leap? When can we dispense with these crap centenary ‘celebrations’? We are Canberra. Bogan and proud. Meat on a stick. Beer in the midday sun. Frolicking on bikes. Giving the finger to da man! Enjoying the outdoors or going down the coast. Laughing at the belco bird. These are but few of the things that make this place great-not a f###ing balloon that looks like cross between HG Wells and freak porn. Apologies to the artist though. There’s always a place for HG Wells-inspired stuff, just not as a balloon supposedly to celebrate 100 years of Canberra.

benno1 2:57 pm 11 May 13

So the useless government could only afford to re-seal 200 odd meters of Wentworth ave, but can waste a crapload of money on a ridiculous hot air balloon that will not benefit the taxpayer at all. Pull your head out of your butt Katie…

c_c™ 1:22 pm 11 May 13

Serious questions need to be asked about the process behind this. Based on the reporting out there, it sounds like Robyn Archer invited the artist to do this over two years ago. No competitive process, no transparency, just one woman spending the taxpayer’s dime on a mate. Auditor-general should have a look at this I’d say.

OzChick 12:41 pm 11 May 13

All I see is boobs.

snowygurl 12:32 pm 11 May 13

Aside from being hopping mad because I struggle to pay every single bill in the ACT, I needed some humour on skyfail, so got a kick out of reading the most funny comments in the CT. A favourite one is ‘why isn’t it tethered over Fyshwick?’. I cannot think that it was created other than for artistic satire, and is totally taking the piss big time out of Canberra.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/canberra-centenary/a-skywhale-you-have-a-right-to-be-disappointed-20130509-2j9rs.html

and

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/canberra-centenary/skywhale-tale-grows-by-at-least-100000-20130510-2jc68.html#poll

On a more positive artistic note, Wolfgang Buttress’ new astronomy sculpture in the ANU science precinct is worth having a gander at (in my humble opinion). That’s my definition of intriguing.

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