Art highway is turning heads
Gallery by road drawing the tourists
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.