Melbourne wakes to see Van Gogh hot air balloon

Residents of Melbourne, Australia woke up to the sight of a particularly unusual hot air balloon, one made in the shape of the head of the famous Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh.

The balloon had been built based on the well-known painting ‘Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat’, with the builders using a high-resolution image as the basis for the balloon’s 3D model. According to Paul Gibbs, a pilot for Goldrush Ballooning, the panels for the balloon had been individually produced to faithfully represent every brushstroke from the original painting before putting them together to form, in Gibbs’ words, a “flying piece of art.”

The flight was organised to promote the upcoming King Valley Balloon Festival, which takes place between June 7-11. Gibbs said about the upcoming festival:

“We have 20 hot air balloons for the festival and I would say to anyone who has never flown in a fleet of balloons before to come down and tick that off your bucket list.”

The balloon, which cost $405,784 AUD (£220,000) to produce, was a challenge for Gibbs to fly. As the vertical performance is not as crisp as traditionally shaped balloons, Gibbs, an experienced hot air balloon pilot, said he therefore needed to fly it carefully and slowly.

The King Valley Balloon Festival will be free for visitors and offers a range of entertainment over the weekend. Those wanting a hot air balloon ride will be able to purchase tickets, weather permitting of course.

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