Famous Brisbane street artist Guido van Helten’s works adorn public walls in UK and Ireland, France, Ukraine, Belarus and Estonia. He was invited to Brim (pop 260 in the Wimmera) during 2015, and was asked to come up with a design inclusive of the locals. The project organiser of a Melbourne art management business said the project would cost $10,000, made possible with grants from Yarriambiack Shire, Regional Arts Victoria and the Brim Active Community Group, plus donations.
Luckily Guido always believed that silos had perfect surfaces for painting street art. In Brim he painted a 30m x 30m scene depicting the Farmer Quartet across the four GrainCorp’s decommissioned grain silos. Created in van Helten’s famous monochromatic photo-realistic style, the Brim mural quickly became a regional landmark and provided the inspiration for The Silo Art Trail project.
“The site was no longer in use and the community had been looking at different ways to attract people to their town. Brim Active Community Group wanted the artwork to attract more visitors to the drought stricken rural town, 350km northwest of Melbourne.
In the Grampians, travel to Patchewollock (pop 250) and see the work of Brisbane-based street artist Fintan Magee, sometimes referred to as Australia’s Banksy. Painted during Oct 2016, the giant mural depicts a local sheep and grain farmer, chosen for his classic farmer looks and his strong connection to the farming community.
Another giant mural dedicated to Indigenous culture and knowledge emerged in Sheep Hills (pop 28), little more than a farming locality on the rail line between Minyip and Warracknabeal. Well known artist Adnate painted the GrainCorp silo as part of the Yarriambiack Shire Silo Art Trail, the third silo after Brim and Patchewollock. And the largest work (30m x 40m) that Adnate ever created.
Adnate is noted for working with Indigenous communities and for his renaissance-style chiaroscuro impressions, so the Sheep Hills project reflects this passion. He worked with the Barengi Gadlin Land Council to create his design, featuring two Wimmera Elders, along with a young boy and a young girl set in the night sky. The mural is about passing Aboriginal culture and knowledge from generation to generation. Appropriately there was a community event to launch the mural, given that the community was rapt with it and that it is so different from all the other silos.
Other Victorian silos have since been painted to make up a 200km silo art trail in the Wimmera and Mallee. These include silo artwork at the Lascelles silos. Melbourne street artist Rone depicted the faces of Lascelles couple whose families have lived and farmed in the area for generations and continued the family traditions of strong community involvement.
The Rupanyup grain storage was painted as a further part of the silo art trail in 2017. The artwork on the silos of two young locals was completed by Russian artist Julia Volchkova, then the Wimmera Grains Store featured the same artwork on their chick pea and lentil packaging.
In late 2017 the silos at Rosebery, south of Hopetoun, were painted with giant murals. Melbourne street artist Katie Kaff-eine painted two farmers on the final silo in the Shire’s Silo Art Trail.
South Australia The Viterra manager for the Eastern region of South Australia saw the wonderful work Guido had done in Brim and other Victorian towns, and the flow-on benefits the art had had on those communities. He noted that the Coonalpyn (pop 200) silos were still used and the company was pleased to be supporting the local community. In Feb 2017 artist Guido van Helten painted five fine portraits of children at play on the town’s 30m-high grain silos. This silo complex painting is South Australia’s largest art “canvas”.
Van Helten said the design focused the circular features of the silo and encouraged visitors to move around for different viewing points. The mural is just one of six projects that are part of the council’s $100,000 Creating Coonalpyn initiative, bringing a sense of pride back to the community. This tiny rural town 160km south of Adelaide is already showing signs of rejuvenation and community pride. Motorists stop along the busy Dukes Highway to photograph the silos and two new businesses have opened in the town, with another one starting in August.
Another silo art project was officially opened in 2017 in South Australia. The silo at Kimba on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula displays 30-metre high artwork was done by Melbourne artist Cam Scale and features a colourful depiction of a Kimba sunset, wheat fields and a young girl. Cam Scale also completed a Geelong-based outdoor piece “To The Unknown Mariner”.
When the idea of commissioning the large-scale artwork on a Viterra grain storage facility in Kimba started, the community raised $60,000 to top up a $40,000 grant, thus funding the art project in the grain-growing community. The community hoped the art would attract visitors to the town 500km west of Adelaide, bringing economic benefits by getting travellers to park near the silos.
Map of Western Victoria
Silo Art Trail
Now other towns are keen to catch a ride on the coat-tails of the Wimmera towns and the rush is on to convert the nation’s mothballed wheat silos into the world’s biggest art gallery. For example two artists transformed eight silos at Northam in Western Australia, and artworks appeared on the grain silos at Weethalle NSW, and in the Queensland town of Thallon