Search continues for balloon sculpture that floated away from Kurri Kurri

A balloon sculpture that escaped its tethers and drifted away from Weston the week before Christmas still hasn’t been found.

The eight-metre sculpture – made from plastic bags and packing tape – was created by a group of Hunter Valley artists in conjunction with children from Kurri Kurri Preschool for an art-and-science project.

The project, titled Museo Aero Solar, was designed to educate children about the power of the sun and raise awareness of daily plastic consumption.

The launch took place at Chinaman’s Hollow cricket ground on the morning of December 19, when the balloon unexpectedly broke its tethers and floated away.

It was last seen over Morpeth, heading north-north-east, around 9am that day.

The project organisers contacted the Bureau of Meteorology and obtained an estimated flight path for the runaway object, which is predicted to have landed near Taree or Forster that evening.

They have spread the word on social media, and via National Parks and Wildlife and aviation authorities, but to no avail.

Contributing artist Andrew Styan drew inspiration for the project from the Aerocene solar sculptures of Tomas Saraceno, seen at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference.

He said it is highly unlikely the solar-powered balloon would have re-launched the next day, as it would have deflated on landing.

Mr Styan believed it would be “touch-and-go” whether the balloon would fly, let alone take off.

Fellow artist Sandii Walker said the project has proven a powerful teaching tool for all involved. 

“We could not have predicted the intense power drawn from the sun on such and excessively hot day,” she said.

“It is a regrettable situation that we now find ourselves in but we are keen for and are committed to the retrieval process, which in itself will have powerful learning outcomes.”

The preschool’s project officer Janet Murray said despite the unexpected twist, the launch was a day the children wouldn’t forget.

“The project was designed to raise awareness of the sheer numbers of plastic bags that we use,” Ms Murray said.

“The last thing we wanted to do is pollute the environment.”

The last thing we wanted to do is pollute the environment

Kurri Kurri Preschool project officer Janet Murray

Contact the Facebook page Hunter Valley Aerocene if you have information on the balloon’s whereabouts.

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