The monumental sculpture in the form of a hot-air balloon was officially inaugurated on Sunday, February 7, at a dawn event outside the NGA.

But unfavourable wind conditions meant the new sculpture and its companion were unable to take their first flight together across the capital, and they remained tethered.

Around 2000 spectators were present at the sold-out event and thousands more flocked to Lake Burley Griffin to admire the flying sculpture, which consists of some 3.6 kilometres of hand-sewn fabric and took months to create.

Piccinini stated that while the first sculpture had been inspired by the wonder of nature, the new addition reflected the importance of nurture.

The Skywhalepapa balloon depicts not just Skywhale’s spouse, but also their nine babies, ranging in age from toddler to newborn, nestled safely under the creature’s fins.

The $1.3 million project will fly over Canberra three times, before embarking on a two-year national tour and possibly venturing overseas.

For more information visit the NGA’s website.