The creation of artist Patricia Piccinini, Skywhales: Every Heart Sings celebrates Skywhale, Skywhalepapa and their nine babies – high-flying balloon sculptures that are described as a once-in-a-childhood experience for those who see them.
“Every heart sings is a project that talks about nature, family, evolution, care and wonder. They float into our lives to make us smile and think.” – Patricia Piccinini
Patricia Piccinini's Skywhalepapa is a monumental sculpture in the form of a hot-air balloon and a new companion piece to Skywhale – together they form a skywhale family. Following three flight events in Canberra, the sculptures embarked on a tour that saw them float across the skies of Albury's Lavington Sports Ground in April 2021.
The skywhale family look like large friendly whales. They float in the sky rather than the sea. Skywhalepapa holds multiple babies in his claws. For the artist this reflects the changing role of male caregivers and celebrates a father’s capacity to love and support. Together, Skywhale and Skywhalepapa describe different ways of thinking about family and gender roles.
“Skywhalepapa is a massive, ten-storey high father but he is not threatening. Instead his strength is comforting. One of things that I love about Skywhalepapa is that it is a sculpture, but it is also a performance—an event. I imagine visitors assembling to watch these giant figures come to life. As the dawn breaks, they see Skywhalepapa and Skywhale take shape and ascend into the air together, connected by a bond of care. It is a simple story, but a beautiful and uplifting one. With a single skywhale figure we have a character, but with the two we have a relationship and a narrative” — Patricia Piccinini
Skywhales: Every heart sings is a National Gallery of Australia Touring Event event co-hosted by AlburyCity’s Cultural Activation and Murray Art Museum Albury and supported by principal partner The Naomi Milgrom Foundation and Visions Australia, and is the third instalment of The Balnaves Contemporary Series presented by the National Gallery of Australia.
[#PatriciaPiccinini, 'Skywhale', 2013, Gift of anonymous donor 2019 through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2020]