New silo art Opens tourist door

LifeStyle Wimmera - - INSIDE - By Dean Law­son

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.”

Re­gional at­trac­tions

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

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