Air balloon sculptures finally take off

Stunning pictures show two gigantic air balloon sculptures finally taking off in Canberra after a month-long delay.

Hundreds of revellers have gathered in Canberra to watch the gigantic air balloon Skywhale and her spouse Skywhalepapa take off, a month after the mammal couple’s false start due to strong winds.

The 30m high air balloons, designed by artist Patricia Piccinini, finally took off in the nation’s capital after failing to get clearance from air traffic control during their aborted launch in February.

More than 2000 people had bought tickets to watch the event outside the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle last month, but gusts coming in from the west would have pushed them towards Canberra airport.

But Skywhale and Skywhalepapa, which required 3.6km of fabric and 3.6 million stitches to construct, took off at dawn on Monday.

Piccinini said while Skywhale was inspired by the wonder of nature, Shywhalepapa reflected nurture.

Skywhalepapa was designed to be shown holding their nine babies, ranging in age from toddler to newborn, under his fins.

“For me, Skywhalepapa is about answering the question that so many people had about the Skywhale, which is: ‘Where are her babies?’” she said.

“They’re with their father, and he’s looking after them.

“There are nine offspring and he’s looking after all of them and making sure that none of them fall to the ground.

“It’s about how we see a strong masculine figure nurturing his children and how beautiful that looks and the idea that care is not gendered, it’s not just female. It’s available to all of us.”

Skywhale initially drew controversy during its 2013 unveiling because the ACT Government used $300,000 in public money for an artwork many Canberra locals found strange in appearance.

It has been described as “a giant turtle with breasts”, “terrifyingly nipply” and “the Hindenboob”.

After three flights across Canberra, the balloons are to take a two-year national tour across the country, including to many regional centres.

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