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Controversial hot air balloon art revealed in Canberra

Patricia Piccinini, an artist of international fame, recently revealed her latest work of art – a hot air balloon called ‘Skywhale’. The sculptural balloon meshes together features from a number of animals, including what some believe is the face of a turtle crossed with that of a whale. The work continues the artist’s theme of creating gigantic pieces of art to wow and shock members of the public. The ‘Skywhale’ balloon was commissioned as a way of commemorating the 100th birthday of Australia’s capital, Canberra. So far, the balloon has reportedly garnered a mix of reactions from spectators. By combining features from a number of animals, the work is meant to inspire people to think about the nature of humankind’s relationship with the natural world, as well as contemporary issues such as genetic engineering. Like with commercial hot air balloon flights in the UK and elsewhere, the balloon is capable of flying at varying altitudes, but the cap was set at 3,000 feet. Speaking about the work, artist Paccinini told Artinfo:
“I imagine it against the clear blue canvas of a Canberra sky, odd yet somehow comforting. “It plays on the idea that the relationship between planning and nature can lead to outcomes that are extraordinary in ways that are unanticipated.”
One observer writing in the Canberra Times called the project “bold” and said it captures and symbolises the imaginative nature of the region. Originally from Freetown in Sierra Leone, Paccinini moved to Australia in the 70s, but it wasn’t until the 90s that she moved to prominence as a major name in sculptural art.
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