Skywhale balloon gets a companion artwork

Katina Curtis
Artist Patricia Piccinini has created a companion for her Skywhale hot air balloon

It must be tough for a Skywhale to find love.

But seven years after she first took to the skies, the massive, 10-breasted hot air balloon creature is getting a mate.

Artist Patricia Piccinini has created a new companion piece, Skywhalepapa, for the National Gallery of Australia which recently acquired Skywhale in an anonymous donation.

"Together they form a Skywhale family, which will be reunited over Canberra in 2020, before floating across the skies of Australia as a National Gallery travelling exhibition," the gallery said in a statement on Wednesday.

An artist's sketch of Skywhalepapa shows a similar creature with long arms cuddling what appears to be a clutch of baby Skywhales.

Piccinini is known for her hyperreal sculptures.

The ACT government commissioned Skywhale from in 2013 as part of Canberra's centenary celebrations.

The $172,000 cost was decried by some as a waste of money, but thousands of Canberrans turned out to see the artwork flying over the city and it has toured the world in the years since.