Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Monday, 20 May 2013

Skywhale

In March of this year my city, Canberra, turned 100.  I realise that by international standards we are babies, but it is still a significant anniversary.  We have had a year long celebration.  Which is marvellous.  There has been, and will be, something to please everyone.

Canberra is known for being full of politicians.  True, it was established as the seat of government.   And public servants.  Also true.  It is also widely criticised for being dull, dull, dull and boring to boot.  Arguable.

One of the presents that we gave ourselves is Skywhale who featured in yesterday's Sunday Selections.  She is a true innovation.  An internationally renowned artist Patricia Piccanini (herself brought up in Canberra) was commissioned to design a balloon  (we love our balloons).  She agreed stipulating that she would not (could not?) develop a balloon which is either caricature or kitsch, and the Skywhale was born.  


This quote by the artist from the link above says it all for me.

'For me, the Skywhale is a work that celebrates the wonder of nature. This might seem weird given that the Skywhale doesn't actually exist in nature, however for me she captures the qualities of nature that I find most amazing. The thing about nature is its extraordinary capacity to find ways to adapt to any environment. There is no place on Earth without life, and that life will be perfectly adapted to that place. There is no creature that I might think of that will be as extraordinary or unlikely as a real one living somewhere.
The Skywhale may appear fantastic but think about the blue whale – an air breathing mammal that lives in the ocean – and it doesn't seem so far-fetched. I think that when we look up at the Skywhale and wonder what it is 'for', it might remind us that nature is not necessarily 'for us'. It just 'is' and we're just lucky enough to be around to see it.'

Criticism of the Skywhale has been loud.  'She is ugly'.  'She is a waste of money'  'What is it anyway?' 'Why does it have breasts'  'Ugly, ugly, ugly'  and so on and so forth.

However, yesterday in the early morning when Skywhale was finally inflated the crowd burst into spontaneous applause - followed by three cheers.  And today some very, very lucky people were able to go for tethered rides in her.  My eyes turned emerald green when I read about that.  I have been on balloon flights.  I have loved them.  I thought my diminished mobility meant that this was something I can no longer do.  And if I had been there today when the public was invited to play, I would have done my damnedest to get in that basket.

Yes she is different.  Yes she is quirky.  And the overwhelming feeling I get from her is one of benevolence.  She reminds me at least as much of a turtle from some angles as she does a whale.  She is a lot of things, but gentle is high on the list for me.  I don't think she is beautiful.  She doesn't have to be - but I do think she is a joy and a delight.   My only reservation?  We don't own her.  She is owned by the company who built her.

Rather a lot of photos follow.  I swear that she is wearing lipstick, and I like her eyes.  She is very, very large and takes a long time to inflate.























We have a LOT of public art in Canberra.  Some of it I adore, some of it I don't like and some of it I don't understand.  AND I LOVE THAT IT IS HERE.  Each and every piece of it.



104 comments:

  1. I'm glad she makes you happy! That's all that is important!

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    1. BECKY: Do I detect that you are not a fan?

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  2. Last photo? A bird. Definitely a bird! As I said before, who cares what it resembles(if anything), it's a balloon!

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  3. Not normally a fan of Piccinini's art, but that does look amazing in the sky.

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    1. librarygirl: It does doesn't it? I wondered whether her shap would mean that she didn't fly well, but it didn't seem to make any difference.

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  4. An incredible balloon floating in what appears to be a perfectly blue sky!

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    1. Wendy aka Quillfeather: There was a little cloud early, but it cleared away to a very bright and sunny day. Which set Skywhale off beautifully.

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  5. It kind of looks like a sea turtle to me. At least it's face. But itsn't that what art is....everyone sees something different in it? Fantastic photos!

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    1. Teresa: And where would we be without artists? I think in a much sadder world.

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  6. OH, my, she makes me smile, laugh, cry and just feel amazement that anybody could have conceived Skywhale. She is not only a work of art, she is filled with whimsy AND creative license. Thank you for sharing her with me, EC. I am humbled to know about her! Thank you!! :-) :-) :-) :-)

    P.S. I would have LOVED to jump out of her and inflate my parachute while flying by and maybe tickle one of her many teats. Are those talons in the back? They sure look like they could be.

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    1. DJan: My face was hurting I was smiling so widely when we watched her being inflated and taking to the skies. Parachuting from Skywhale would be amazing. I didn't even think of that - and am not at all surprised you did. I think they are talons, but soft ones.

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  7. So very... female. And how delightfully frivolous and fun. I guess Canberra isn't always boring, as people say. ;-)

    As for balloons in general... nice to look at, but you couldn't pay me to get in one! I'm impressed that you'll go ride in them. I don't care for high places myself. I imagine, though, that the experience must be quite beautiful and exhilarating.

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    1. Paper Chipmunk (aka Ellen): I loved your link to always boring Canberra. And part of me is glad that people think that way - I get to see it in relative peace and quiet.
      I don't like flying on planes. Too noisy and it feels inherently unsafe. I don't know why ballooning is different for me - but it is. Particularly over water...

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  8. I love fantastical beings. Just because they "don't exist" in this world, doesn't mean that, on some level of consciousness, they don't exist anywhere. After all, they spring from someone's memory and thoughts, subconscious or otherwise.
    That makes them very real to me.

    Skywhale looks to be a beautifully benevolent creature. I think her huge, full breasts represent nourishment and love in abundance - plenty to go around.
    We need that badly in this world.
    She is a Goddess.

    And, an absolute marvel of construction!

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    1. Vicki: I understand she was very challenging to build, being not only bigger than other balloons but with many more parts. There is certainly room in my life for fantastical beasties. Quite a lot of room.

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  9. Who could not love this beautiful beast ... she represents so much in so many different ways. In the eyes of the artist she represents nature and yet she is so fantasical that she goes way beyond that. The greatest conpicuous element is her goodness,kindness ... Her generosity and yet furosity to protect. It is all there in all of her enormity. I love art ... and nature and all that it stands for. Thank you for letting us share this fun and endearing moment with you.

    Andrea @ From The Sol

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    1. Andrea: As you know, art and nature are big in my life as well. And a decided fondness for quirkiness. So, yes she is a winner in my book even though I know that she doesn't appeal to lots of people. Lots and lots of people.

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  10. I'm sorry, but this balloon has confused me from the first time I saw it. I'm not sure what it's supposed to be. It doesn't impress me at all...just my opinion. It makes no sense to me. But, as in everything, I guess...each to their own! :)

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    1. Lee: You are not alone in not liking her. Not by a long way. And there is no reason you should.

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  11. Your Skywhale looks like a little (No! Make that BIG!) bit of whimsical magic floating across the sky. I can see how it would make you smile just to watch her. The face reminds me of a manatee. Very docile and benevolent.

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    1. Susan: She has divided people. Some of us like her, and others hate her. I do fall into the former category, but even if I didn't I am glad that she was commissioned and built. There is always room in my world for a bit of frivolity. Make that a lot of frivolity.

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  12. If I saw that in the sky over Sydney I would watch it till it was out of sight, I think she is great she has character.
    Merle.......

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  13. This is wonderful. Public Art is so important, I am sure there is a little bit of something for everyone.

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    1. Sienna Smythe: We have public art all over town. In town itself there is at least one piece on every block - which I love.

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  14. Not being an 'arty' person myself I don't fully understand what the artist say although I will go along with her statement that neither she or anyone else could ever dream up "a creature more extraordinary or unbelievable as a real one living somewhere" You only have to think of some of our own animals here in OZ.
    I can definitely see the turtle resemblance in the head and there is the hint of a smile as though she is indeed smiling at all the fuss that is being made over her.
    There will be many who wonder at her and even wonder why as well to which there really is no answer.
    I have a 90-year-old (ex) sister-in-law living in Canberra and next time she telephones I must ask her opinion of the Skywhale. Would be good to have the opinion of someone even older than I am.
    Thanks for sharing some wonderful pictures and hopefully you may have the chance to 'hop' on board sometime in the future.

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    1. Mimsie: Lots of people don't like her, don't understand her and think she is a waste of money. Which is their perogative. I will be interested to hear what your ex sister in law thinks of her. And yes, she is odd, but no odder (as the artist said and you and I know) than many of Australia's own animals.

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  15. Um. Those are supposed to be boobs?

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  16. And a titter ran through the gallery...

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    1. J Cosmo Newbery: Several titters. Ten titters.

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  17. A beauty in the sense of Marilyn Monroe she is not, maybe in the class of Dolly Parton but benevolent and kindly she certainly seems to be and yes, above all she certainly wins the stakes in the fun category!

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    1. Arija: And I firmly believe that we all need more fun in our lives.

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  18. She most certainly is wearing lipstick and I see the benevolence in her face. She does look kindly and tolerant. I wondered yesterday what she was meant to represent and my comment was maybe a little "sour grapes". I'm thinking now that maybe she represents the fact that Australia welcomes and nourishes so many. She is whimsical, that's for sure, and I do like a bit of whimsy.

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    1. She has the look on her face of a mother cat who just had kittens....

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    2. River: I am so glad that you can see her charm today. Not that I think everyone HAS to like her, but it is wonderful to be able to stop and look again. I also like whimsy. Lots of whimsy.
      Strayer: You are right. I hadn't thought of that until you told me, but yes, I have seen mama cats with just that expression.

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  19. That is sooo awesome....we don't have smth like that around here....and you are such a good field reporter :).

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    1. unikorna: I am always so happy to see the quirky, the unusual, the just plain fun. And I am very glad you liked coming with me.

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  20. Ok, that's not dull! And that's a lot of tits too. Someone has an issue over that. But you should the atrocities and beauties of balloons launched here, in Albany, OR. What some consider things of intense beauty others want to shoot from the sky. It's all in the beholder. I want to ride in a balloon so badly!!!! I am with you on that one, EC. Where did you get to do it before? Was it as wonderful as I imagine, floating, hanging suspended in the sky?

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    1. We have the Albany Arts and Air Festival here, in late summer, a mecca for hot air balloonists, and sometimes hundreds come and launch each morning til the sky is filled with them. One year, although I was not at home, a balloon came down into the cul de sac, and nearly clipped my place and just was able to clear the old man's house next door. I wish I'd been home to see that.

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    2. Strayer: I have floated over our lake in the early morning, with mist rising from the water, canoeists below and the dawn touching the hills. It is unbelievably beautiful. I am so so glad that I have been given the opportunity.

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  21. Dear EC, these sentences are lovely: " She is a lot of things, but gentle is high on the list for me. I don't think she is beautiful. She doesn't have to be - but I do think she is a joy and a delight." When I look at her eyes and her smiling lips the word that comes to my mind is "benevolent." I think somehow she will bring blessings on you and on Canberra. Peace.

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    1. Dee: I know the community is dividing over her. And that is fine - but I am still sorry for those who cannot see any of her charm.

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  22. I feel the same as you about art. And I love Skywhale! She looks just as she should.

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    1. Carol Kilgore: The artist has been hurt by the attacks on her, and on Skywhale. I wish that she could see the wonderful community that I do, lots of whom DO enjoy Skywhale.

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  23. " 'Why does it have breasts' !?

    To feed its babies surely? How can some people miss what is so obvious? :)

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    1. Don QuiScottie: Because missing the obvious is what some people do best.

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  24. When I first saw the photo of her, I was reminded of a Star Trek The Next Generation episode called "Tin Man." It was a space creature traveling through space that looked like a whale. :) We are all creatures of awe, are we not?

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    1. Laura Eno: Being a creature of awe (and wonder) is fine by me.

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  25. What fun! Crazy, inspired, and thought-provoking fun! i'll be doing my first balloon flight this summer in Turkey, and am excited to experience the adventure!

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    1. daisyfae: Crazy, inspired and thought-provoking sums her up well doesn't it? And I am certain that you will LOVE your balloon trip in Turkey. Over Cappadocia?

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  26. Glad that people are celebrating the arts in your town. Skywhale looks like loads of fun to float around the sky in. Who knows, maybe she'll catch on and skywhales will be turning up all over the place. Let's hope so. I live in a 'boring' town too. I think boredom is a state of mind. There are so many wonderful things to learn and do, how can one ever become bored?

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    1. Debora: I am not bored here, but it is a very common complaint. Other people's problems. And I would love to see a sky full of Skywhales...

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  27. Oh, I can't help but smile at that Skywhale! It's awesome.

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  28. Magnificent! I would love to see her floating above me. And the colors! Like sea and sun melding. Peace...

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    1. Linda: I am so very happy that so many people who have visited have enjoyed her. And yes, I did love seeing her drifting through the skies.

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  29. She is so unusual...it must be nice to see her floating in the sky

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    1. Kim @ Stuff could...: I really enjoy it, but a LOT of people don't.

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  30. Someone else said sea turtle and that's what I see as well. Amazing detail on the face. That balloon required a lot of work.

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    1. Alex J. Cavanaugh: An incredible amount of work. I can see a turtle(ish) sort of thing as well.

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  31. She is totally quirky - and I love quirky!!! Such a gentle, friendly face - who cannot like her??

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    1. Carola Bartz: I also love quirky. Lots. I was surprised (a little) at just how many people DON'T love her though.

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  32. She is beautiful, I love her!!! Long may she fly and congratulations to all of you celebrating the 100th anniversary.

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    1. DeniseinVA: She has a limited future - I think they are talking about 100 flights or so, which means I am all the happier that I did get to see her.

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  33. It looks brilliant. Tit-tastic in fact, and she has such a gentle look on her face. I'd like to see one fly by here too, though I can't imagine I'd sleep that well afterwards, but as spectacles go, I can see how this would be one not to miss.

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    1. All Consuming: I am very, very glad that I forced the skinny one to get up some hours before he was ready. And he is too.

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  34. Oh, yuck! The only good thing I can say about it is that it has a nice face. I'm just glad you didn't go riding in it because I would have worried about you being drowned in milk.

    I don't think it would fly (ha) in America because people here are too prudish. I never thought of prudishness as having any desirable consequences until I saw Skywhale and realized that it can save us from some things.

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    1. Snowbrush: I am sorry. I replied to you hours ago - and it has gone missing. We have found something we DON'T agree about! I do like Skywhale, and would be happy to risk being drowned if it meant I could fly with her.
      Interestingly, while there has been a LOT of criticism of her, no-one (that I have heard about) has wanted her censored on obscenity grounds.

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    2. "no-one (that I have heard about) has wanted her censored on obscenity grounds"

      She (?) doesn't arouse my prurient interests, so I wouldn't either, although I'm not one to say that anything should be allowable, especially when paid for by the public. For instance, there have been outcries here over public act that combined Jesus' image with feces, and I would oppose that, although I don't even like Jesus. No one should be forced to pay for "art" that they find deeply offensive. If an artist can't succeed without public assistance, maybe they don't deserve to succeed.

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    3. Snowbrush: Dangerous ground. I would also oppose art(?) combining Jesus (or really anyone) with faeces. Deeply offensive art is very subjective though... I am not sure what the solution is. I do think that the arts should be encouraged and I am happy that my taxes contribute. It contributes to a lot of things that I don't support already.

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    4. Would you trade her for Oprah?

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    5. Snowbrush: No - you can keep Oprah. I prefer our whale.

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  35. skywhale....oh how i love that name.
    and i love the way you describe your villiage,
    how you know it in the way a person can know a place
    and that you love that the art is there.
    what a beautiful heart you have:)
    thanks for sharing,
    Jennifer

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    1. Jennifer Richardson: Thank you. The art in town enriches my world - as does Skywhale.

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  36. Reminds me a bit of a turkey - native to the americas (I had to look it up - meleagris gallopavo). With the kids doing a spanish immersion program we have learned no less than three words for turkey in spanish - guajalote (el salvador, honduras, mexico), chompipe (El Salvador, southern Guatemala, Nicaragua), pavo (which in latin means peacock). this is getting more and more confusing by the minute!

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    1. Nicky HW: I think you are the first to compare her to a turkey. She is certainly a fantastic mythical beast. And I am jealous that your boys are in the spanish immersion program. I really, really wish that I had been exposed to other languages and cultures when I was growing up.

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  37. The whimsical look of Skywhale certainly is amusing and a creative masterpiece- in my humble opinion.
    Thanks for making me smile ~:)

    Hope you and SP are well n happy!

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    1. Pam;): I am always happy to make you smile.

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  38. I am glad you are celebrating the centenary of Canberra's foundation. It is worth celebrating. The federating states could not agree that the national capital should be Sydney or Melbourne, and ever since the constitutional agreement that it should be in NSW, disgruntled people have been whinging. Those of us who moved to Canberra, perforce, took the national perspective, and we all managed to create a good place. Are the people of Canberra alone in considering the welfare of the whole nation? sometimes I think so.

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    1. persiflage: And it is a good place. It is very different to any of the other capitals and I think it has a charm all of its own. And yes, sometimes it does feel that the other states can only think in a territorial way.

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  39. Fantastic post, wonderful photos:) Greetings

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  40. This leaves me speechless, with a huge smile.

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    1. Susan Kane: Huge smiles here too. She is 'something else'.

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  41. b r i l l i a n t.

    I just love this! Xxxxx

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    1. My Inner Chick: She is stunning isn't she? Quirky and a delight.

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  42. Wow, I'm not sure what to make of Skywhale. I do find it fascinating and it must of been quite the spectacle to observe. Canberra certainly knows how to celebrate. On Vancouver's centennial year of 1986, they had the World's Fair, Expo 86. Skywhale is most unique, a Skywhale of an idea.

    Have a lovely weekend, dear friend.

    Gary

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    1. Gary: Thank you - and a wonderful smiling weekend to you, to Penny and to Tristan. She is fascinating isn't she? It was wonderful to watch her inflated and take to the sky. Or I thought so...

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  43. She's a whale-sized turtle and quite fantastic. I love that she has VH-100 rego, and we all need to watch her FaceBuck page or Twitter @theskywhale_ because she will tell us when to watch the Melbourne sky soon.
    In Parliament they called her the Hindenboob

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    1. Ann ODyne: The Parliamentarians would call her the Hindenboob. Fortunately she flies better than that.

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  44. I like the way you think ~:) have a wonderful day!

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    1. Pam;): Thank you. Sometimes thinking is too hard though.

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  45. Those photos made me laugh (in a good way). She is so fun!

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    1. Ms. CrankyPants: She makes me smile too. Rather a lot.

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  46. Well, I must say I love the artist's quote, especially agreeing with her last line, "nature is not necessarily 'for us'. It just 'is' and we're just lucky enough to be around to see it.'" Judging from the way she talks about her, it seems that Skywhale has become very real to her (makes me think of The Velveteen Rabbit!) I don't see a whale at all (except in size), but a turtle or parrot, though that's probably unfair - she is a creature that's unique and probably shouldn't be compared to "real" critters (though it's human nature to do that!) And though I love the whimsical, creative idea of her, I have to admit that the execution hasn't won me over. While I love that she very much represents the feminine, life-giving abundance, "Mother Earth" qualities, the 10 pendulous breasts coming off her back and behind are just too odd, large, and numerous and upstage the rest of her (especially her benevolent, patient-looking face). Though I must say, I love how luminous they look with the sunlight shining through them! (I'd say "incandescent," but that's probably not a word you want to use around a hot air balloon!) ;-)

    I wish you'd gotten a chance to ride her - but maybe another opportunity will come along! We'll all be rooting for you! Thanks for getting these photos and sharing them, along with the additional information. I can truly say I appreciate her more now than I did when you first shared a photo of her!

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    1. Laloofah: Skywhale is still dividing the community here. I don't find her beautiful - but I love that she was created and, like you, really appreciate that 'nature is not necessarily for us'. I think more of us should remember that. I am thrilled that you appreciate her more after finding out more about her. Many of her fiercest critics here haven't seen her. Which is sad. For them. And yes, incandescent and balloons is an 'uncomfortable' mix.

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  47. That's one helluva balloon. I like her!

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    1. Ron Dudley: So do I. Lots. There should be more quirkiness (much more) in this world.

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  48. i have to say my feelings about its appearance are VERY mixed, the boob bit isn't very appealing at all. but i do get the idea somehow, even if it doesn't appeal visually. and i love its quirkiness.

    i've recently enjoyed the british reality show "phil down under" about a british real estate agent hunting houses for brits moving to australia. every episode revolves around a particular city and canberra was one of them. i got the impression that its very modern, short distances to get from one side to the other, lots of water, lakes and green areas and inhabited with people mad about sports. and yes, one british family who'd moved there many years ago owned a balloon company and did very well from it:)

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    1. Pia K: You are not alone. Lots of people hate her. Some think that she is a waste of money and shouldn't exist. I adore quirkiness and am happy to welcome her into my world.
      Canberra is modern - and in half an hour you can quite easily get from one side to the next. Lots of its architecture doesn't appeal to me, but I love the green space and the proximity of our native wildlife. Sports mad? Not me.

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