Replica of Vincent Van Gogh head to float across Albury skies on Wednesday

UP, UP AND AWAY: A hot-air balloon shaped like Vincent Van Gogh's head will be visible in the Albury skies on Wednesday. Picture: FAIRFAX
UP, UP AND AWAY: A hot-air balloon shaped like Vincent Van Gogh's head will be visible in the Albury skies on Wednesday. Picture: FAIRFAX

A 27-metre tall replica of artist Vincent Van Gogh's head, modelled on his 1887 self portrait will soar over Albury on Wednesday.

Behind the controls of the hot air balloon, which has a capacity of 110,000 cubic feet of air, will be King Valley pilot Paul Gribbs.

Mr Gribbs said the sight of Van Gogh's likeness travelling across the skyline was as spectacular as the views from the balloon itself.

"When flying elsewhere I had a spectator thinking he was a a cowboy," Mr Gibbs said.

"But what they did was take a high resolution digital image of his 1887 Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat.

"At that stage Van Gogh was using contrasting colours, greens with reds, oranges with blues, and long brushstrokes - it looks quite spectacular."

Mr Gibbs with the deflated balloon. Picture: FAIRFAX MEDIA

Mr Gibbs with the deflated balloon. Picture: FAIRFAX MEDIA

The balloon is coming to Albury in the lead up to the second annual King Valley Balloon Festival which takes place across the Queen's Birthday Weekend in June.

Mr Gibbs said the balloon cost more than $400,000 to make and was commissioned by Dutch brewing company.

"It's absolutely spectacular, every panel has been individually printed," he said.

"When it was manufactured and inflated for the first time, one eye looked out and one eye looked down so it had some minor eye surgery and there's been no problems since."

The balloon will be lift-off at 7am and will be flying for about an hour across Albury and Wodonga.

Mr Gibbs said being such a uniquely shaped balloon it did have some limitations, in that it could not descend or climb very quickly.

But overall, he said, it flies beautifully.

It will also fly daily - along with 16 to 20 other balloons - during June's King Valley festival.

Mr Gibbs, who founded the festival, said they wanted to bring the balloon to Albury-Wodonga because the region had greatly support the festival.

"People come out and spectate, from between 7am and 9am balloons take off from Brown Brothers in Milawa and then at night we've got Night Glow," he said.

He said going into it's second year the ballooning event was gaining momentum and attracting pilots and spectators from further afield.

"We're hoping the festival will continue to grow for many, many years," he said.

The Border Mail