Two Patricia Piccinini Skywhales are heading to The Grampians

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Two Patricia Piccinini Skywhales are heading to The Grampians

Words by Talia Rinaldo

Patricia Piccinini’s majestic Skywhales - two monumental sculptures in the form of hot-air balloons - are coming to The Grampians in May.

Fresh from their first-ever flight over the Melbourne city at sunrise last month, in a journey visible from the CBD through to the outer suburbs, Patricia Piccinini’s ‘Skywhale’ and ‘Skywhalepapa’ will float through the Southern Grampians skies in May this year.

Commissioned by Canberra city, contemporary visual artist Patricia Piccinini (recognised globally for her hyperreal, lifelike works) created a hot air balloon piece to tour around the world with Skywhale. The grotesque, whale-like mammal balloon appeared in the skies above Canberra in 2013, widening the eyes of the population, leaving many speechless.

Keep up to date with Melbourne’s latest art events, exhibitions and performances here.

Last year the iconic family grew with the unveiling of Skywhalepapa, the male counterpart to the original hot air balloon and the artist’s most ambitious project to date. This balloon stands 10 stories high and carries under his nurturing fins the brood of calves that his partner’s magnificent dugs had caused us to wonder about.

Both launched together in 2021 as part of Skywhales: Every Heart Sings, and now they’re traversing the skies of Australia as a two-year National Gallery Touring Event, with the next stop being the Grampians and then, possibly to international destinations as a part of the $1.3 million performative exhibition.

Patricia Piccinini conceives of Skywhales: Every heart sings not only as two sculptures, but also as a performance or event. “I imagine visitors assembling to watch Skywhalepapa coming to life,” says Piccinini. “With a single skywhale figure we have a character, but with the two we have a relationship, and a narrative.

“Skywhalepapa continued the concepts around nurturing, caring, nature and evolution that began with Skywhale. I’m really moved by nature. The idea that all creatures, not just humans, are perfectly evolved for their environment blows my mind.”

Arm yourselves with picnic blankets and torches, and bring the whole family for a truly special experience. Art events don’t come much bigger than this.

The Skywhales will take to the sky Saturday, May 14 at Dunkeld Consolidated School. The event is free with gates opening from 6am and launch at 7am. No bookings are needed.