The Skywhalepapa has taken flight, providing some much-needed company to the controversial, 10-breasted hot air balloon creature Skywhale.
Artist Patricia Piccinini created the Skywhale artwork’s companion piece for the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, with the pair unveiled on Sunday.
The gallery recently acquired Skywhale in an anonymous donation.
Conditions in Canberra were not conducive to flying the newly coupled Skywhales on Sunday so they were instead tethered near the National Gallery.
“This is about taking art to the people – you can literally look up in the sky and see the skywhales flying by,” director Nick Mitzevich said.
“Audiences don’t need to go to a gallery to see the skywhales – this is art that is accessible and democratic.”
Piccinini is known for her hyper-real sculptures.
The ACT government commissioned Skywhale in 2013 as part of Canberra’s centenary celebrations.
The $172,000 cost was decried by some as a waste of money, but thousands of Canberrans turned out to see the artwork flying over the city and it has toured the world in the years since.
Mr Mitzevich said the Skywhales will take to the skies of Canberra three times together before heading off on a two-year national tour. They may also then float off to international destinations.
Piccinini said Skywhalepapa, like its partner, conveyed the concepts of nurturing, caring, nature and evolution. It can be seen carrying nine babies, ranging from newborns to toddlers.
Some 4.5 tonnes of air are required to inflate Skywhalepapa, which is as tall as a seven-storey building and is composed of some 3.6km of fabric. The balloon requires at least 30 minutes to fully inflate.