A series of giant artworks on old grain silos is helping reinvigorate a string of small towns in the Wimmera-Mallee region of western Victoria.
The rural murals bringing life to small-town Victoria
THE VICTORIAN RURAL Art Trail began with one small country town and one large-scale street artist and has expanded to become a 200km outdoor gallery through some of north-western Victoria’s most deprived regional communities. In 2016 artist Guido Van Helten painted a set of decommissioned wheat silos in Brim (pop. 171) with four photorealistic monochrome portraits of farmers.The mural was the brainchild of Juddy Roller, a Melbourne street-art collective that, with the permission of Graincorp (which owns this and many more silo sites around Australia), worked closely with the local community to sensitively depict Brim’s agricultural heritage.The project attracted international media attention and visitors followed in droves. Nearby communities were galvanised into action, and by 2018 five more giant artworks had been completed on old silos in the towns of Rosebery, Lascelles, Rupanyup, Sheep Hills and Patchewollock. These aren’t Australia’s only painted storage towers but they are the first to be imagined as an integrated outdoor art trail, which is now widely regarded as the country’s largest art gallery. Changed farming practices, rail closures and industry compliance issues have all contributed to the demise of most of the towering concrete silos that defined the nation’s rural skyline for more than a century. Their transformation into huge canvases depicting powerful, emotive images of country life and people has captured the public imagination and brought pride to communities dealing with multiple problems – not least of which is the worst drought since the Millennium Drought of 2001– 09. In May, Brim’s painted silos (right) featured on a set of Australia Post limited edition stamps, and Graincorp has received hundreds of applications from country towns keen to add their silos to this rural art movement.