During my recent trip to Melbourne, I had the opportunity to travel the 300 odd kilometres up to the Grampians to visit some of the Silo Art on many of the mainly disused grain silos in the region. I was joined on this trip with Pat and Kay, my son’s in-laws, who had booked us into a motel in a town called Halls Gap for a couple of nights, this was a good base for our further travels into the region.
Sheep Hills – Matt Adnate
We had arranged a tour for the first day of our stay, and, after our pickup and a coffee break, we headed to our first mural stop in Sheep Hills to visit the silo painted by Melbourne artist Matt Adnate, known for his large-scale murals depicting Aboriginal Australians, he chose two elders as two children from the area as his subjects for the murals. My first sight of this 2016 mural took my breath away, I have been a fan of his work for quite some time since first discovering it when I started traveling to Australia, his evocative close-ups are very powerful and emotive, especially his giant murals on a tower block in Collinwood in Melbourne and his eponymous hotel in Perth, although his work can been seen throughout Australia.
Sheep Hills Silo Art – YouTube
Brim – Guido Van Helten
Our next stop was at a town called Brim to see a silo painted by one of my favourite artists, Guido Van Helten, this mural in his familiar monochromatic style, features 4 local farmers and was actually the first silo to be painted on the mural trail in 2016, over the years the colours have faded until the artwork look as if it was almost a part of the original concrete of the silo.
The silo mural at Brim soon brought about newfound energy and optimism in the local community, and encouraged a rise in visitors to the region. After hearing of the widespread local and international attention, other towns in the region followed suit creating the Silo Art Trail.
Glasgow residents will have seen much of Guido’s work, he painted 4 large-scale murals in the city for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the Badminton player on Wilson Street and the three depicting Hockey, Rugby and Netball players at Partick Station.
Rupanyup – Julia Volchkova
We then drove to the town of Rupanyup, to view a silo painted by Russian artist Julia Volchkova in 2017, this artwork, again in a monochromatic style, this mural features two of the youngsters of the town wearing their sports attire (Netball and Australian Rules football), on a pair of squat steel silos. The evolving rust spots on them add to their appeal in my opinion. Whilst staying in the town Julia forged friendships with many of the locals, and after a fire nearby painted a tribute to the volunteer firefighters of the community.
The three silos we visited on our first day highlighted the distances between the silos and the conditions of the rural roads, although disappointed that we could get to see more, we could understand why the tour was limited, however, we planned to visit a few more within driving distance of the motel, before returning to Melbourne.
Horsham – Smug
After breakfast on our second day, we headed to the town of Horsham to see a silo painted by Smug, this stunning full-figure mural is a tribute to Yanggendyinanyuk, an Aboriginal warrior, sitting alongside it is his painting of a Black Cockatoo, which was the characters totem.
Whilst at the silo we met a lad flying his drone, it turned out that he was the photographer for the Melbourne artist Jimmy Dvate, who was painting a mural next to Horsham Town Hall, so off we went to see him in action, it was great to see just how he approaches his work and to see the piece develop, again I have enjoyed seeing his work throughout Australia, he told me that he was hoping to visit Glasgow at some point this year, I look forward to that.
Dimboola – Smug
Our final stop was the sleepy little town of Dimboola, a stop on the way to Arkona, to see another stunning and interesting mural by Smug on the silo. The mural depicts Roley Klinge, an Arkona local who championed tennis for the local community. Being unable to meet Roley, who had passed away in 1991, Smug decided to paint him innovatively, showing only his clothing and tennis gear, however, he did manage to fit in a small portrait of him at the base of the silo. This truly is a spectacular mural that finished off our trail to perfection.
It transpired that Smug stayed in the town whilst painting the silo and while he was there he also painted a mural on a building next to the local library, this mural, a study of some local birds, was magnificent indeed.
We then hit the Western Highway for an uneventful journey home from a fun, interesting and enjoyable trip, which will stay in our memories I’m sure. We enjoyed our trip so much, we are already planning to visit more of the silos on my return to Australia next year, although I feel that I may be purchasing a drone to try and capture them better.