Art high­way is turn­ing heads

Gallery by road draw­ing the tourists

Big Rigs - - NEWS - Sean Whit­ting­ton

LOOK – up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane... no, it’s jaw-drop­pingly stun­ning art­work on mas­sive grain si­los.

Ris­ing from the harsh bi­tu­men road that is the Dukes High­way (A8) – the ma­jor road freight route be­tween Mel­bourne and Ade­laide - in South Aus­tralia’s Mur­ray Mallee re­gion, a mag­nif­i­cent piece of art­work has been cre­ated.

Tow­er­ing 30m into the sky, the land­mark Viterra grain si­los at Coon­alpyn – 130km south east of Ade­laide - have been trans­formed into a truly mes­meris­ing pic­ture of art.

Touted as South Aus­tralia’s largest art can­vas, five strik­ing im­ages of lo­cal school chil­dren now cover the face of the si­los.

The project has be­come an in­ter­na­tional suc­cess story with more than 500,000 peo­ple from across the globe view­ing the im­ages on so­cial me­dia since it was com­pleted ear­lier this year.

Bet­ter still, thou­sands of peo­ple have con­verged on the strug­gling Mallee town – some pass­ing through on their way to and from Ade­laide to Mel­bourne, oth­ers mak­ing the trip specif­i­cally – to view close up the tow­er­ing mas­ter­piece.

The si­los were painted by world-renowned large scale mu­ral artist, Bris­bane-based Guido van Hel­ten, who spent a to­tal of six weeks liv­ing in Coon­alpyn in March and April this year to cre­ate his mas­ter­piece.

At a cost of $40,000, the silo project is part of an over­all $100,000 Cre­at­ing Coon­alpyn ini­tia­tive funded by Coorong Dis­trict Coun­cil, Coun­try Arts South Aus­tralia and spon­sor­ship from busi­ness and com­mu­nity to at­tempt to re­ju­ve­nate the ru­ral town and its sur­rounds.

“We have new busi­nesses open­ing their doors, more jobs be­ing cre­ated, pro­duc­ers grow­ing as they help feed the hordes of vis­i­tors, ac­com­mo­da­tion booked out, in­au­gu­ral events start­ing up and so much more,” says Coorong CEO Vin­cent Cam­mell.

One such new busi­ness is the Coon­alpyn Silo Café di­rectly op­po­site the tow­er­ing si­los.

Co-owner Brett De­whurst im­me­di­ately recog­nised an op­por­tu­nity as soon as he saw the art­work com­menc­ing and set out trans­form­ing the fam­ily’s for­mer bak­ery site into a bustling café which now em­ploys seven peo­ple, in­clud­ing his mother Maureen who started the bak­ery back in 1975.

“It’s been great for a num­ber of busi­nesses in the town, and that has flowed on to the lo­cals as we have tried to em­ploy as many lo­cal peo­ple as we can – not just to work in the café, but also the tradies we’ve needed to ren­o­vate the build­ing,” said Brett, who co­in­ci­den­tally is a 20-year in­ter­state truck driv­ing vet­eran.

In an­other unique as­pect of the project, the chil­dren fea­tured on the mu­ral are all lo­cal res­i­dents who were all se­lected ran­domly by the artist.

They are: Kiarah Leske and Blake Thomp­son (aged six), Macey Ja­cobs and Reef Gre­gor (aged five) and Ciara Johnson (aged nine).


ART FOR TRAV­ELLERS: Guido van Hel­ten cap­tured the per­son­al­i­ties of lo­cal chil­dren so all passers-by may ap­pre­ci­ate the work.

Jonesy at the helm pour­ing an­other coldie.

The grain si­los are a can­vas that at­tract vis­i­tors.

De­tail of chil­dren of the dis­trict caught in time.

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