An iconic bath pal of children everywhere, the rubber duck, floated into Sydney’s Darling Harbor to oversee the Australian city’s annual art festival in January 2013. This Rubber Duck, designed by artist Florentijn Hofman of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, stirred responses from awe to hilarity; it is as tall as a five-story building and dwarfs boats and buildings. “What makes Sydney Festival unique, I think, is this amazing blend of serious art and quirky and playful entertainment,” says festival director Lieven Bertels. “And what better to celebrate that than with a really lovely public art work such as the Rubber Duck.”
Rubber Duck, versions of which have been launched on waterways from Osaka, Japan, to Sao Paulo, Brazil, is made of rubber-coated PVC, built on a pontoon and equipped with a generator. Hofman isn’t shy about creating grand-scale urban sculptures from unique materials. Among his works are a huge rabbit made of locally manufactured shingles and wooden armatures dominating the city square in Orebro, Sweden; a fat monkey made entirely of flip-flops sprawling across a Sao Paulo park; and an enormous inflatable dead black fly on a rooftop in Quéretaro, Mexico, for the Day of the Dead. “[Rubber Duck’s] purpose is to do no more than amaze,” says Hofman.