Entertainment

It's a bird, it's a plane, no it's Splendour's Skywhale

Australian sculptor Patricia Piccinini's Skywhale at Splendour.
Australian sculptor Patricia Piccinini's Skywhale at Splendour. Mireille Merlet

THE gentle giant presiding over of this year's Splendour in the Grass Festival is a 36m by 26m hot air balloon called the Skywhale.

The brainchild of Australian sculptor Patricia Piccinini, the balloon can only be described as one of the most intricate and unique air balloons ever to grace the Northern Rivers skies.

It is the chandelier of the hot air balloon world.

Project manager Rebecca Townsend saw the Skywhale in Canberra last year for the Capital City's centenary celebrations "and I thought it would be great for Splendour so we proposed it".

The Skywhale arrived in the Northern Rivers last month and took a test flight by Byron Bay Ballooning staff at Tyagarah.

"The structure and architecture of the balloon inside is quite amazing," Ms Townsend said.

The sculpture is made of polyester fibre with an interior coating to protect it from heat, like hot air balloons, but Skywhale has been painted using a special technique which makes it mythically life-like.

"It's been printed very carefully by the artist so it looks like skin. It's not bright primary colours, it really looks like an animal, and that's what gives it an artistic aspect," Ms Townsend added.

"The guys from Byron Bay Ballooning said it's quite an amazing accomplishment to produce it."

The Skywhale will only be up in the air for a total of nine hours during the festival.

At $3500 for three hours flying high above Splendour, producing the artwork's exhibition is an expensive exercise requiring an Australian-registered pilot plus five staff.

The Skywhale uses liquid propane as a fuel to heat the balloon.

"This fuel is considered very clean in comparison to other fuels available," Ms Townsend said.

The Skywhale will be tethered to the ground during the festival to allow festival-goers to have a closer look to the artwork.

Ms Piccinini said the balloon was "something of a meditation on nature and evolution", which are two things which fascinated her.

"Perhaps the Skywhale is a genetically modified creature or perhaps it is some undiscovered species, or perhaps it is something mythological and entirely symbolic. I think that is up to the viewer. I do think that whatever she is, she is a benign and wonderful presence."

The artwork caused some controversy during its inception in Canberra, receiving a mixed reception when it was unveiled in May 2013.

Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said at the time her eyes "nearly fell out of

her head" when she first saw a diagram of The Skywhale's design, but she had come to like it and believed that it would challenge the perception of Canberra as a boring city.

Others questioned its beauty and its value for money, costing about $300,000 to construct.

Ms Piccinini said the artwork, with its 10 breasts as wings and peaceful face, is not meant to be beautiful or ugly, but hopes to incite the public to think.

Topics:  splendour 2014 splendour in the grass



Snake enclosure stolen from Northern Rivers pet shop

Snake enclosure stolen from pet shop.

Snake no longer homeless, but unfortunately it didn't happen legally

North Lismore house fire extinguished

HOT STUFF: Fire & Rescue crews from Lismore attended a house fire in Macaulay St, North Lismore, on May 27, 2017.

House fire detroys structure and contents

You can be clean, green and help a koala in one go

Simplyclean's Huw Jones (left) pictured purchasing a lemon myrtle tree to plant on his property from Mark Wilson at the 'Friends of the Koala' tree nursery.

Lismore based Friends of the Koala is getting some love

Local Partners

Could Schapelle be heading for Gladstone?

THE convicted drug smuggler is back on Australian soil and in hiding, but Gladstone could soon be on her radar.

Six things you never knew about Men in Black

Mushu the pug

It's been 20 years since Men in Black first hit cinemas

10 strange stories behind famous sex scenes

Khaleesi and Khal Drogo in a steamy moment.

Every set has their own way of filming sex scenes

HBO spills new details on Game of Thrones’ final season

Game of Thrones’ eighth and final season will only have six episodes.

New details about what to expect from the eighth, final instalment.

Karl’s rant on Corby: ‘Made to look like idiots’

Karl Stefanovic is sick of hearing about Schapelle Corby.

Today co-host launched a tirade against Schapelle Corby media circus

Spicer discusses impact of discrimination

AUTHOR: Tracey Spicer.

Tracey Spicer to speak in Lismore

Shot at the live shows slips through Sally's fingers

Sally Skelton and Bojesse Pigram pictured after their battle performance on The Voice.

Sunshine Coast singer's dramatic elimination from The Voice

This is real estate's billion-dollar man

Bob Wolff at AREC with John McGrath of McGrath Real Estate.

They don’t call him the “Billion dollar man” for nothing

Man's amazing comeback from monster crisis

Pat O'Driscoll agents Penny Keating and Doug Webber sold 56 Agnes St, The Range at auction over the weekend.

NOT long ago, he sold his possessions to pay staff. Now he's back.

Here's your chance to carp about feral pests

Carp might by great fun to catch but they're destroying Australia's watercourses.

Science in the Pub looks at carp and coral trees

SNEAK PEEK: What new shopping centre is going to look like

Artist impression of the proposed redevelopment of the cinema and shopping complex on Jonson St, Byron Bay.

Mercato billed as regional NSW's most sustainable shopping complex

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!