New silo art Opens tourist door
The magnetic tourist appeal of a massive mural on grain silos at Brim in the southern Mallee is on track to expand dramatically across Yarriambiack Shire.
Work is underway on a unique 200-kilometre north-south Silo Art Trail from Rupanyup to Patchewollock.
The project will include six silo artworks overall in what some are already calling the largest art gallery in the world.
Tourists have already been making the trip up and down the Henty Highway to see Guido Van Helten’s work at Brim and now fellow landscape-scale artist Fintan Magee has transformed silos at Patchewollock.
Magee is a prominent international artist responsible for amazing and poignant work in Australia and around the world.
Federal and state governments have backed the Silo Art Trail project, each committing hundreds of thousands of dollars in recognition that it has the potential to inject millions of dollars into the region.
The Yarriambiack Shire Council project also represents an opening of a traditionally agricultural rural shire to fresh industry.
The effect of, and visitor response to, Van Helten’s mural at Brim, in the heart of Yarriambiack Shire, has provided the backbone inspiration for the broader project.
The concept involves murals on a further four silos at Rupanyup, Sheep Hills, Rosebery and Lascelles.
Artists, all with different styles, will work with communities to develop individual works.
What is exciting for locals and visitors alike is that in the Wimmera and Mallee people are going to have something special and unique on our own doorstop.
‘Going for a drive’, so much a weekend ritual for many people in the region, takes on a new dimension, combining the ideals of a relaxed exploration of the wide-open spaces with high-quality and dramatic art.
Wimmera Development Association executive director Ralph Kenyon summed the project up earlier this year when he said it was something that would capture the imagination of a lot of people.
“The scale is unbelievable. It’s not just an economic and tourism development – it’s also about community development,” he said.
“For that long, narrow municipality, this ties it all together.
“It’s one of the best projects I’ve seen in years and its significance won’t really be felt until a few years.
“It has the potential to be every bit as significant as Mt Rushmore in the United States, and the likelihood of becoming a holiday must-do for everyone from grey nomads and the arts community to even people with an interest in silos and grain.”
The project is also likely to open doors for many people yet to fully discover what else our region has to offer.
One example is the annual Patchewollock Music Festival. Magee started work on his mural at Patchewollock at the same time as the annual festival, prompting organisers to suggest tourists should time their visit to correspond with the annual event.
Festival spokesman Greg ‘Wally’ Wallace said the crowd at this year’s festival, pictured right, was double the previous year.
He agreed the addition of the silo artwork offered even greater potential for the future.
“It is something people planning to do the silo trail might consider,” he said.
“The festival is always in spring, on the second week of October, and people might be able to time their run to include it in their visit.”
Estimations are this year’s Patchewollock festival attracted more than 500 people on the Friday, more than 1000 on the Saturday, between 600 and 700 on the Saturday night and close to 300 on the Sunday morning.
“It’s a fantastic event. All the money we make goes back into making it sustainable for the following year,” Mr Wallace said.
Pictures: Gwen Young