The best thing to do during the week between Christmas and New Year, is to hook the van on the back of the MUX and go for a drive. This drive was to find and follow the Silo Art Trail in Western Victoria
Silo Art is a newish phenomenon of large art galleries and it is a tourist drawcard to small towns where the Grain Silos have been decommissioned by the Grain Corp, which owns five of the six silos. The last silo at Rupanyup is owned by Australian Grain Export and is still in use.
We had a beaut Christmas lunch with our Northern Neighbours at their house and returned home at about 3pm for an afternoon nap. We were going to leave the following day but on the spur of the moment, and as the van was packed, I changed plans (I do this quite often) and after consulting my other half we were on the road by 4pm. Everything in this family happens with both parties agreeing on what happens next. Only the dog has no say in the matter.
About 110km from home we pulled off into a Rest Area on the Burra-Morgan Road and spent the night there. Traffic was sparse and we slept well with only a couple of vehicles passing by through the night.
The following morning, we enjoyed breakfast on the banks of the Murray River and then later we took the ferry across to the other side and our journey took us through the towns of Waikerie, Loxton and Pinnaroo. Then we cruised east along the Mallee Highway and turned south on to a minor road at the small community of Walpeup and on to Patchewollock where we viewed out first silo painting.
The Silo Art Trail spans the open undulating country in a north/south direction in the Mallee-Wimmera regions of Western Victoria for around 200 kilometres, roughly between Ouyen and Horsham
The northernmost art work at Patchewollock was done by Fintan Magee. Fintan Magee is an Australian Street artist who is known for his murals throughout the country and the world. Born in Lismore New South Wales he grew up in Brisbane, gaining a reputation as a graffiti writer before obtaining a Fine Arts Degree and basing himself out of Sydney. It features a portrait of wheat farmer Nick Hulland. On the second silo there is a dying tree which represents the life cycle of the bush.
Doing a dog-leg from Patchewollock to Lascelles via Speed, all small havens for country communities, we came to the next art work which features the faces of long term Lascelles couple, Geoff and Merrilyn Horman, whose families have lived and worked in the district for four generations, plying their trade as wheat farmers and being involved with this small community since birth
The artist for this project is Rone, the nom de plume of Tyrone Wright, a born and bred Victorian from the city of Geelong who has become the well-known Stencil Graffiti Artist of Melbourne and has been gaining reputation as an influence in the scope of Street Art
By this time the hot day was starting to lose its strength and we made for Lake Lascelles for a possible over night camp forgetting that it was school holidays. The place was packed with locals and their power boats were churning up the lake and so we opted for the quiet of the caravan park nearby.
Early in the following day we made for Rosebery silos which are adorned with station workers caring for animals on the land. The art work is by Kaff-eine, one of the more salubrious street artists of Melbourne whose art has taken her all over the world
A short way south along the Henty Highway lies another small community. Brim has attracted a lot of TV and other media attention. Guido van Helten, a Brisbane based artist, has turned the community of 100 on its head with the four characters depicted on the silo walls. He wants to keep the names of those characters kept a secret so that the art is in the eye of the beholder and so that the viewer might weave their own story into the paintings. It is the ‘Mona Lisa’ moment in Brim. There are three men and one woman in this mural
The town of Warracknabeal lies in the middle of the Silo Art Trail and it provides services to the whole Mallee-Wimmera region. I still have a hard time putting the pronunciation in the right accent of the name. Is it WARRACKNABEAL, WarRACKnabeal or WarracknaBEAL? The town has a love affair with the Kelpie Dog and two sculptures adorn the centre of the Main Street.
Next is the Sheep Hills silo artworks.
Sheep Hills is a locality in the northern Wimmera region, north-west Victoria. It is 271km north-west of Melbourne. The original inhabitants of the area are the Wotjobaluk aboriginal tribe and the silos depict the descendants of these people. A distinct reflection in the eye of one of the children can be picked up with a telephoto lense.
Starting his career as a graffiti artist, Matt Adnate moved into portrait painting as a way to raise awareness about Indigenous issues.
“The main drive behind a lot of my work is about creating awareness of Indigenous communities and Indigenous people as a whole”
“I create these massive murals in cities like Melbourne and Sydney and I end up travelling all over the world”, Mr Adnate said
The last of the Silo Art Trail is at Rupanyup. As of the 2016 census, it had a population of 536.
The name Rupanyup is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘branch hanging over water
Locals are attempting to reverse the rural decline. A number of entrepreneurs and including overseas migrants are throwing their weight behind a variety of new businesses in town and including a community supermarket where everyone in town is an equal shareholder.
Julia Volchkova, a Russian Street Artist, who was born in the city of Nizhnevartovsk in Siberia, said that she never imagined that she would be invited to paint the rounded walls of a silo in the country of Australia. Although she had painted many large art forms on buildings and especially in Malaysia, the silos were a challenge. She chose people playing sport and first up she chose 16yo student Jordan Weidemann, a footballer, and then 25yo Ebony Baker, a Naturopath who loves playing Netball
Each one of the art scapes has its own personal richness and it was hard to pick what we thought was the best one. The art at Rosebery was a favourite though.
Having done the Silo Trail in the short space of a couple of days we continued to our next adventure further south.