Before we start off on our first trail, a little background on our topic. Here is a map showing the geographical areas of Victoria and you can see the Wimmera/Mallee takes up much of the west and north west. Victoria’s main grain farms are located in this area and the grain is stored in the silos which are tall cylindrical towers which dominate the landscape. Settlers in this area were establishing their farms as early as the 1830s.
The area is under incredible economic stress and the Silo Art Trail project has started to breathe new life into the small towns struggling to survive. Brisbane street artist Guido Van Helten painted his famous Farmer Quartet on the Brim silos in 2015 and from this the Silo Art Trail project was born.
So off we go into the Wimmera/Mallee districts of Western Victoria where silos have been painted at Sheep Hills, Brim, Patchewollock, and Rupanyup. Five silos are now being worked on in Roseberry. I'll introduce you to the artists as we go. Here is our map.
We are going to start in the south at Rupanyup where the silo was painted by Julia Volchkova, a Russian street artist (born in the city of Nizhnevartovsk in Siberia) who said she wanted to bring a little femininity to the project.
Moving onto Sheep Hills where Melbourne street artist Matt Adnate painted members of the local indigenous community onto the silo which is the largest in the Silo Art Trail at 30m high by 40m wide.
And then followed by Brim where the first silo was painted by Guido Van Helten who ironically was a graffiti artist before he started studying art and specialised in print making.
In Rosebery, the next town up the Henty Highway, work is still under way. But Melbourne Street artist Kaff-eine has made a start and she will be very busy as she has five silos to paint.So far, Kaff-eine has decided to paint images of people and animals to emphasise the relationship between us and the land. She has painted a man with a horse on one silo, and an image of a woman is starting to take shape on the second silo. She also wants to introduce a little more colour than has been used on some of the other silos.
Then at Lascelles you will see the faces of local wheat farmers Geoff and Merrilyn Horman gazing out across the land. They were painted by Melbourne artist Tyrone ‘Rone’ Wright .
Lascelles was named after the "Father of the Mallee", Edward Harewood Lascelles and became a popular staging post on the trek to Mildura during the early days of the settlement of the Mallee. We will stay the night so you can enjoy this magical sight.
And we will finish our trail in Patchewollock which is my favourite place name in the world! It is accepted that Patchewollock is a corruption of two local Aboriginal words 'putje' meaning 'plenty' and 'wallah' meaning 'porcupine grass' thus 'the place of plenty porcupine grass'. This silo was painted by Fintan Magee who has worked full-time as muralist for the past four years painting a silo in Norway and buildings in Portugal, the Netherlands, Italy and Ukraine. As Magee said: I've mostly worked on flat surfaces so the silos are always pretty challenging.
And this is what it is like to be up a silo painting it!
As a postscript and not to be outdone Geelong decided to paint their cement works silos at Fyansford and gave the job to Renowned Australian street artist Rone is Geelong born and bred and who painted the silos at Lascelles. Let's give them a little publicity as well.
Check out this site were you can see the cement silo up very close and see just how incredible the painting is. You can also get an idea of the scale of the artworks through the comparison of the boom lift that Rone is standing in to reach the silos.
If you do the trek you could start in Geelong and then travel north to visit the silos along the Henty Highway. I'll definitely being doing this trail sometime in the near future.
Importantly the Federal, State and Local Governments have all helped fund this massive creative enterprise which is breathing new life into our rural communities in Western Victoria. Hooray!!
Of course we’re not the only state to have painted silos. I know most of the other Australian states also have some. But these are unique as they are so close together up a stretch of road.
And there must be some in USA and Canada though I haven’t located any images as yet. But tomorrow we are off to USA to visit the Hudson River School Art Trail, New York and learn a little more about American painters.
If you're interested in doing the Silo Art Trail check out these sites.