Si­los art­work a tow­er­ing in­spi­ra­tion

Countryman - - COUNTRY LIFE - Cally Dupe

It has taken 200 litres of paint, 80 rollers, 10 brushes and 168 hours, but the third piece in WA’s PUB­LIC Silo Trail is now com­plete.

Four tow­er­ing 35m-high si­los at Merredin have been painted by Perth artist Kyle Hughes-Odgers, who told res­i­dents at the art­work’s launch last week it was the tallest can­vas he had ever worked with.

A con­ver­sa­tion point for tourists and trav­ellers alike, the silo trail is hoped to bring busi­ness to town as tourists stop to con­sider silo art­works now based at Merredin, Avon and Raven­sthorpe.

Shire of Merredin chief ex­ec­u­tive Greg Pow­ell said the art­work had pro­vided a wel­come dis­trac­tion for some farm­ers dur­ing a tough sea­son.

Merredin boasts the largest grain stor­age bin in the south­ern hemi­sphere and is a ma­jor re­ceival grain point for han­dler CBH.

“Pic­to­ri­ally it’s pro­vided a topic of dis­cus­sion, that’s for sure,” he said.

“I think it’s great we have been cho­sen, it cer­tainly puts a fo­cus on Merredin and its great to see an art­work of this cal­i­bre in the place.

“One of the is­sues we do have, be­ing on a ma­jor road, is its dif­fi­cult to get peo­ple to stop.”

Of­fi­cially launch­ing his com­pleted work last Mon­day, Hughes-Odgers said be­ing lifted up in a 10m boom lift to paint had re­ally tested his fear of heights. “When the ma­chine is fully ex­tended any slight wind is ex­ag­ger­ated when you’re in the bas­ket,” the artist said.

“I haven’t looked at wind apps that much ever be­fore in my life. I was re­ally con­scious of those things, deal­ing with that adren­a­line but want­ing the art­work to be ex­actly what I wanted it to be.”

Two si­los fea­ture male and fe­male hu­man-like char­ac­ters with im­ages of the lo­cal land­scape painted on their clothes.

The other two si­los de­pict mas­sive pot plants with sheaves of wheat shoot­ing to­wards the sky.

The silo trail was first launched in March, 2015, as a part­ner­ship be­tween art or­gan­i­sa­tion FORM and grain ex­porter CBH, both of which hold sim­i­lar as­pi­ra­tions for the project to draw tourists and add to the aes­thet­ics of re­gional com­mu­ni­ties.

Ex­actly which coun­try town will be se­lected for the next project will not be known for at least six months, ac­cord­ing to CBH grower and ex­ter­nal re­la­tions gen­eral man­ager Bri­anna Peake.

“We are so ex­cited to have the paint­ing fi­nally done . . . we are re­ally proud of it, it’s great to see the fi­nal prod­uct,” she said.

“CBH has a com­mu­nity in­vest­ment port­fo­lio, where we look at how we can sup­port re­gional com­mu­ni­ties to bring those things you some­times only get in ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments.

“It’s about bring­ing well-renowned in­ter­na­tional artists that you wouldn’t usu­ally see in the re­gions.

“One of the prime rea­sons we have this project up and run­ning, bring­ing art to an area where you might not get this kind of art, and for the lo­cal econ­omy.”

Northam’s si­los were the first to be painted in 2015, by UK artists Ph­legm and Hense us­ing cherry pick­ers to reach the tow­er­ing struc­tures.

Ph­legm was in­spired by the Wheat­belt’s avi­a­tion his­tory, while Hense worked with a pal­ette of bold colours.

A year later, a 25m-high wild­flower-in­spired mu­ral was painted at Raven­sthorpe’s grain si­los.

Ti­tled Six Stages of Banksia bax­teri, the mu­ral took 31 days and 388 litres of paint and was cre­ated by Fre­man­tle artist Amok Is­land.

Photo avail­able at west­ Picture: Justin Ben­son-Cooper

Mas­sive wheat si­los have been painted with huge mu­rals by lo­cal artist Kyle Hughes-Odgers in Merredin.

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