11 January 2021

Skywhale and Skywhalepapa to grace Canberra's sky for the first time in February

| Dominic Giannini
Skywhale and Skywhalepapa

Patricia Piccinini’s Skywhale and Skywhalepapa. Photo: National Gallery of Australia.

Skywhale and Skywhalepapa will be seen for the first time together publicly on 6 February as the hot air balloons fly over Parkes.

Only artist’s sketches of the 10-storey Skywhalepapa have been released so far, so Canberrans lucky enough to get a spot at John Dunmore Lang Place will witness the inaugural family flight.

It will feature in Canberra as a National Gallery Touring Exhibition.

Jess Green and the Luminescence Children’s Choir will also be playing a special live performance of We are the Skywhales.

Skywhalepapa sketch

Patricia Piccinini’s Skywhalepapa sketch. Photo: National Gallery of Australia.

Patricia Piccinini’s seven-storey Skywhale first flew across Canberra in 2013 before she announced the second member of the family in 2019.

The original Skywhale stirred quite a controversy in Canberra for its design and cost when it was commissioned by the then Chief Minister Katy Gallagher.

The controversy even led to another former Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, to label the artwork as too divisive for the public, saying it was not a positive experience for the ACT Government.

It ended up costing around $350,000 and has become a Canberran pop culture icon.

Skywhalepapa was originally set to grace Canberra’s skies in 2020 before being pushed back because of the pandemic.

“With a single Skywhale figure we have a character, but with the two we have a relationship and a narrative,” Piccinini said.

“One of the things that I love about Skywhalepapa is that it is a sculpture, but it is also a performance — an event.”

Patricia Piccinini and Skywhale

Patricia Piccinini and the Skywhale hot air balloon. Photo: National Gallery of Australia.

The number of people at the event will be limited due to COVID-19 safety requirements and people will need to remain seated throughout.

While the event will remain free, Canberrans will need to register ahead of time. Registrations will open in mid-January.

The Skywhale and Skywhalepapa will launch at 5:30 am on 6 February and also fly on 8 March and 3 April 2021.

Visit the dedicated event page or the National Gallery website for more information.

Original Article published by Dominic Giannini on The RiotACT.

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