One of the biggest outdoor galleries in the world can be found deep inside, what the Australian’s call, country Victoria. Huge grain silos have decorated the landscape here for years. This is farming land but now many of those silos have been painted with huge murals from some of the worlds best street artists.
It’s hardly what you’d expect in an area which boasts fields as far as the eye can see. Spreading over an area known as the Wimmera Mallee, the Silo Art Trail has breathed new life into communities which have long needed a boost. Since it’s foundation in 2015, with it’s first mural in the tiny hamlet of Brim, it’s become a popular attraction.
In this part of Australia you’ve got to get used to travelling. The whole trail is over 270km long. So far extending to seven silos across the Mallee there are also a couple of additional pieces dotted around. Many of the artists needed to live in the vicinity over the time spent creating the works. Their inspirations taken from the people and the land.
The Silo Art Trail
The Wimmera Mallee is a land worth exploring and the silo art gives the traveler a great opportunity to learn about this unique part of the country. People have worked the land here for years. With this in mind, the silos are more than just art. They are an opportunity to learn about the people who have lived here and those who indeed still call it home.
The following order is the best way to see the trail. Rupanyup is the southern most location. It’s then a 158km drive to Patchewollock at the top end of the trail. From Patchewollock you’ll then need to head south again. This time to Nullawil via Sea Lake which is another 123km. This is the best way to see everything if your going to do it well.
Rupanyup – Julia Volchkova (2017)
At the southern end of the trail Rupanyup is the only mural to have been painted onto steel grain silos. As such it’s also the smallest silo on the trail, yet once you’re in front of it you wouldn’t know that. The artist is Julia Volchkova, a Russian painter from Siberia. Her mural shows two delicate portraits. Blending in against the metal exterior of the silo her work shows two local young people, Ebony Baker and Jordan Weidemann. Julia wanted to create a piece which captured the importance of sport and community in rural areas. Ebony is captured in her netball outfit whilst Jordan is shown in his Aussie Rules kit.
Sheep Hills – Adnate (2016)
There’s not much at Sheep Hills other than the grain silos. What is there is covered by a giant colourful mural from Melbourne artist Adnate. Celebrating the indigenous culture of the area the piece is about the transferring of knowledge from old to young. It features local children Curtly McDonald,9 and Savannah Marks, 2. They are set against the backdrop of a balmy Wimmera evening with the vast landscape of the land and sky set behind. Looking inwards are elders from the indigenous Wergeia and Wotjobaluk groups, Ron Marks and Regina Hood.
Brim – Guido van Helten (2015)
The first mural to be created as part of the Silo Art Trail was at the tiny hamlet of Brim. Created by Melbourne’s Guido van Helten it showcases the resilience and strength of the local farming community. The mural explores the notions of community at a time when rural populations are in decline and facing pressure. The people shown, blend into the background of the silo as if one with it just as they are one with the land. Van Helten wanted the identities to remain unknown. “I don’t want this to be about individual people specifically”, he told ABC Rural. “It’s about this place, it’s about the community and, on a broader scale, the whole Wimmera region. If you leave the anonymity to these people and people see whoever they want to see, they can have their own connection to the work.”
Rosebery – Kaff-eine (2017)
Melbourne’s Katt-eine created a work at the Rosebery silo which she says embodies the regions past, present and future. Showing a young female sheep farmer on the left with an older male horseman on the right, this is about different generations. At both times the work symbolises the future whilst gazing a emotive eye to the past. The woman stands confidently despite the hardships faced in the Mallee, sheep farming is still an important industry for the area. The man meanwhile nestles comfortably with his horse, their mutual trust and understanding of one another, the results of a lifelong connection. “I want to display the relationship between us and the land”, she told the Mail Times.
Patchewollock – Fintan Magee (2016)
The northern most small town on the trail is Patchewollock. There, it’s giant grain silo shows an image of a man looking out onto the plains. From Brisbane artist Fintan Magee he chose to depict local sheep and grain farmer, Nick Hulland. Standing tall overlooking the Mallee, holding a staff and staring into the distance. He exemplified the no-nonsense hardworking spirit of the region according to the artist. As an added extra in Patche, the area boasts a replica of it’s old train station and some giant Mallee Fowl made out of corrugated iron. For an extra art boost then you can visit the studios and gardens of the corrugated iron artist, Phil Rigg, in nearby Lascelles.
Lascelles – Rone (2017)
Rone’s ghostly images overlook Lascelles. Choosing to recognise the long connection people have with the land his work features portraits of two local people. Both peering out from individual silos it shows Geoff and Merrilyn Horman. Part of a family which has lived and farmed the area for four generations. Each looking out from separate silos, they look over different aspects of the town. “I wanted to find people who had lived here all their lives and get a sense of what the town has been through over the years,” explained Rone to Juddy Roller. “With a population of just 48 people, I’ve been fortunate to have already met most of the town here in Lascelles”
Sea Lake – Drapl & the Zookeeper (2019)
The biggest town on the trail is Sea Lake. Boasting not only the newest mural from street art duo Drapl and the Zookeeper. The town is also the gateway to Lake Tyrell, a dramatic inland lake which is well worth a detour. ” This artwork is a celebration of this special space in rural Australia” says Zookeeper on his instagram. It shows a young girl swinging from a Mallee Eucalyptus and gazing out over the lake. A Wedge Tail Eagle soars above and emus run into the distance. “For millennia this lake has existed, unchanged and untouched. It is a place of wonder and story. In this ever increasing busy day and age, people universally long for space and solitude.” The duo have also painted a couple of additional murals along the main Street of the town.
Nullawil – Smug (2019)
Smug is well known to us here on Inspiring City. Now based in the UK we’ve featured a number of his recent large scale murals from festivals in Aberdeen and Leicester. Originally from a town south of Sydney, he has become known for his high quality portraits. The Nullawil silo is the first in the Buloke shire to be painted and took 14 days in total to complete. It features a man with his Kelpie sheep dog. Very much the center of attention here is the dog and this mural is a homage to the companionship between the two. The Kelpie itself is a breed which has it’s origins in Victoria having been bred when the area was settled by the Scottish in the mid to late 1800’s. There is a visitors center in the town of Casterton which has the full history of the breed.
The Silo Art Trail was visited on 3 and 4 November 2019. The order presented here is the order that I’d recommend you visiting the murals in. Should you want to stop over then I would suggest looking for somewhere to stay in the town of Sea Lake which is mid way through. It also has a number of other amenities. For other posts about street art in Australia check out these on Brisbane, Port Adelaide and Adelaide itself.