Whale to fly through winter skies

May 16, 2022 BY

Just look up: Patricia Piccinini’s Skywhalepapa and original Skywhale are part of the National Gallery of Australia’s collection. Photo: JEREMY WEIHRAUCH

THE work of Australia’s premier hyperrealist sculptor Patricia Piccinini will gracefully float over Ballarat this winter.

The National Gallery of Australia’s Skywhales: Every Heart Sings tour will see Piccinini’s surreal hot air balloon family, the original Skywhale and the baby carrying Skywhalepapa, become a feature of the city’s sky during Ballarat Winter Festival.

Every Heart Sings is a project that talks about nature, family, evolution, care, and wonder. The Skywhales float into our lives to make us smile and think,” she said.

“The point of this work is that care is something that belongs to all of us. Care should not be gendered. Care is not a human thing.

“Care is something we can all share and it is the carers who are the heroes of our community.”

Art Gallery of Ballarat director Louise Tegart said the Skywhales will be launched early in the morning at a public park or reserve. The location is yet to be determined as this will be influenced by weather patterns.

“The community will be invited to witness the spectacle of them being inflated, and taking off, and there will be some musical accompaniments, coffee and refreshments at the site,” she said.

“The Skywhales are touring a number of other sites, but we would encourage Ballarat people to wait until they come here so they can see them in their own backyard. It will be a lovely morning out.”

City of Ballarat mayor Cr Daniel Moloney said all people can appreciate art in some way, but not everyone has the opportunity to visit a formal gallery.

“I love the accessibility of this. It’s an awesome way for everyone in Ballarat to enjoy an immersive art experience at once, literally just look up,” he said.

“They’re brilliant pieces, but also pretty fantastical. For the 2020s, nothing is too unusual, and anything is possible, so can a giant whale float above Lake Wendouree? Sure, why not?

“They’re not just balloons, but wonderful pieces of art. If anything, it’s a bit of a metaphor for the times; fantastic ideas that challenge us.”

Cr Moloney expects the Skywhales will draw visitors to events on the broader Ballarat Winter Festival program, including the annual ice-skating pop-up, Sovereign Hill Winter Wonderlights, Kryal Castle’s Knights of Fire, and The Design Exchange market.

The festival is set to run from late June to mid-July.