The launch of Patricia Piccinini’s Skywhales may have been postponed due to unfavourable weather conditions, but the Patricia Piccinini Artist Talk, Royal Mail Hotel In-Conversation Brunch and Art Steps workshops are still going ahead!

The public launch event will now see these monumental sculptures in the form of hot-air balloons will take to the skies with a backdrop of the stunning Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park on Saturday 21 May.

This National Gallery of Australia Touring Event is visiting only 9 locations in the country and is brought to Dunkeld by the Hamilton Gallery as part of a free public event!

Gates open at 6am and the launch will be at 7am, alongside a Welcome to Country and opportunities to hear from the artist herself and representatives from the presenting galleries.

The @visitgreaterhamilton team are beyond excited… head to our Visitor Information Centres to pick up illustrated Skywhales colouring sheets and knitting patterns, cuddle our kitted Skywhales, and make sure you don’t miss the below events! 



What’s this all about?

Patricia Piccinini is an internationally renowned artist, famous for her mutant life-like creatures.

Skywhales: Every heart sings is a $1.3 million performative exhibition showcasing two of Piccinini’s iconic creations. Commissioned by the National Gallery of Australia, with the support of The Balnaves Foundation, Skywhalepapa is the artist’s most ambitious project to date. Debuted alongside Skywhale in Canberra earlier this year, this new companion piece is nothing short of magnificent, and together they will be awe-inspiring.

The Dunkeld event will take place from the scenic grounds of the Dunkeld Consolidated School. Nestled beneath Wurgarri (Mount Sturgeon), Mud-Dadjug (Mount Abrupt) and Bainggug (Picaninny), you can watch the sunrise and soak up the incredible views before the Skywhales are inflated and released into the Southern Grampians (Gariwerd) skies.

“It will be awe-inspiring to see these ‘living’ sculptures floating into the sky with the sublime backdrop of Wurgarri (Mt Sturgeon) and Mud-Dadjug (Mt Abrupt). It will truly be a once in a lifetime event. This is a remarkable cultural event for the region and to make it even more special the artist, Piccinini will be visiting to give artist talks and public programs. I look forward to her and the National Gallery team experiencing and engaging with our unique community, landscape and culture.”  – Hamilton Gallery Artistic Director, Joshua White




Patricia Piccinini, ‘Skywhale’ 2013 and ‘Skywhalepapa’ 2020, Kamberri/Canberra, © Patricia Piccinini Patricia Piccinini, ‘Skywhale’ 2013 and ‘Skywhalepapa’ 2020, Kamberri/Canberra, © Patricia Piccinini


What’s On: The Skywhales Program of Events

Artist Talk: Patricia Piccinini │Fri 13 May, 1pm – 2pm │Hamilton Performing Arts Centre, 113 Brown St Hamilton
Free, all welcome, registration essential HERE or call (03) 5573 0460.

In the lead up to the skywhales taking flight over the Southern Grampians (Gariwerd), join Patricia Piccinini for an exclusive artist talk. Known internationally for her hyperrealism, Piccinini’s practice comprises drawing, photography, video, performance and large-scale installations, including the hot-air balloon sculptures Skywhale and Skywhalepapa. Hear how Piccinini uses her creative practice to interrogate the complex relationship between our natural and artificial worlds, asking the question: ‘What if…?’


In Conversation Brunch Sat 14 May, 9.30am Parker St Project, 108 Parker St Dunkeld.
$55 per person, booking essential, limited places – book HERE.

Join internationally renowned artist, Patricia Piccinini and locally based zoologist and conservationist, Bill Weatherly for a special in-conversation event exploring themes of ecology, sustainability, responsibility and care in their respective work. The conversation will be facilitated by Elspeth Pitt, the National Gallery’s Curator, Australian Art.

The memorable conversation will be followed by a delicious sharing-style brunch in Parker Street Project. Executive Chef, Robin Wickens has designed a unique selection of morsels inspired by the in-season Autumn produce from the famed Royal Mail Hotel Kitchen Garden. The brunch experience also includes a glass of local sparkling wine on arrival and freshly brewed tea and coffee throughout the morning.


Art Steps by Patricia Piccinini │Sat 14 May, 1.30pm – 3pm │ Hamilton Gallery, 107 Brown St Hamilton
Free, limited places, registration essential via (03) 5573 0460.

Join artist Patricia Piccinini for a making activity inspired by the Skywhale family, suitable for children aged 8 to 14 years. The National Gallery’s Art Steps program is a series of making activities created by artists for children to enjoy with their families. Art Steps by Patricia Piccinini is presented as part of the Skywhales: Every heart sings national tour.


Skywhales: Every heart sings – Digital Excursion│Wed 8 June, 10am – 11am  │ Online

Students across Victoria are invited to experience Patricia Piccinini’s Skywhales: Every heart sings during this live, interactive webinar. Students will be introduced to the work of internationally renowned artist, Patricia Piccinini, and to key concepts that underpin her work including care, community, sustainability and our responsibility and relationship to nature.




Skywhales: Every Heart Sings Event │Sat 14 May, Gates open 6am, launch 7am │Dunkeld Consolidated School, 93 Victoria Valley Rd
Free, all welcome, no bookings required.

Join the artist and community in launching the hot-air balloon family of skywhales. No need to book, just head along to the event and soak up the wonder. Bring along a picnic blanket, chair or watch from your car – there will be a coffee van on site, but you’re welcome to bring along your own snacks and drinks, too!


Patricia Piccinini, Skywhale, 2013 and Skywhalepapa, 2020, © Patricia Piccinini

Patricia Piccinini, Skywhale, 2013 and Skywhalepapa, 2020, © Patricia Piccinini


Skywhales: Every Heart Sings is a National Gallery Touring Event, supported by Principal Partner The Naomi Milgrom Foundation and Visions of Australia. Skywhales: Every Heart Sings is the third instalment of The Balnaves Contemporary Series and is a Know My Name project.

“Every Heart Sings is a project that talks about nature, family, evolution, care and wonder. The skywhales float into our lives to make us smile and think.” – Patricia Piccinini

Share your snaps of this incredible event with us on socials @visitgreaterhamilton!

#visitgreaterhamilton #Skywhales #KnowMyName #WhereAreTheSkywhales