The Silo Art Trail

I am not above admitting that I watch Masterchef or that I can be convinced of things because I see them on that show. Masterchef in 2017 was my introduction to the Silo Art Trail. It’s a 200km stretch of road heading north between Rupanyup and Patchewollock. At the time we drove through, there were five pieces completed, with plenty of imitations cropping up around the country. And in recent weeks a sixth silo has been completed by the incredible Kaffeine at Rosebery.

The artworks were completed by artists from as close as Melbourne, from Brisbane and even from as far away as Russia.

We were coming to the trail from Adelaide so the first stop was Patchewollock and the amazing piece by Fintan Magee of a local farmer. This theme of the local being represented on these huge scale artworks was one that was repeated on almost every artwork we saw. The colour and vibrancy of Magee’s work was what was most striking to me. And to my dad as well, who declared it his favourite when I recently showed him photos.

 

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From there we moved on to Rone’s  piece in Lascelles – a dual portrait, one on each silo, of a local farming couple. I’m a huge fan of Rone’s art, and fortunately there is a lot of it to see in Melbourne. But this is the largest scale I’ve ever seen his work on. The level of detail in his portraits is always astounding to me. Look at the cloth and the buttons on the shirt of the male farmer, for example.

 

Silos

 

The silos at Brim are the first and most famous (they are the ones that were featured on Masterchef). This time four portraits of locals painted by Guido van Helten. As the first, these set the template for the rest of the towns on the trail to follow (and even the template for silos as far flung as Western Australia).

As a sign at the site says, van Helten spent a few weeks in the Wimmera talking to farmers and gaining inspiration for the large scale artworks he wanted to paint. He painted for a month between December 2015 and January 2016, working in extreme heat and dealing with the weather from thunderstorms to dust storms.

The four images are super powerful and, like Rone’s pieces, are full of a level of detail that blows my mind. Every shadow, every fold in the fabrics of the clothes, every line on a face.

 

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Adnate is one of my favourite street artists. His work is all over Melbourne, from the Dalai Lama in the backstreets of Fitzroy to the portraits of Aboriginal children all over the town. The portraits of the children are particularly my favourite so I was so happy to see this theme reflected in his silos, with a twist. This work would feature both the young and the old, the children and the elders.

We got to Sheep Hills in the latter stages of the afternoon, when the light was starting to fall and soften as the sun headed toward the horizon (which was slightly concerning since we still had one more silo to see). But the afternoon light really brought out the colours in this piece. Everything seemed really vibrant, especially the eyes of the children which to me looked like they reflected the landscape they were looking out over. I got a little bit emotional looking at these.

 

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So we did make the final silo in Rupanyup before sundown. Julia Volchokova, or Julia Woolf, took a different approach with her image of two local young people playing sport – netball and football.

 

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These are very, very small towns that are entirely dependent on the farming that surrounds them. We were there on a Monday and by far we were the youngest people at each of the sites we visited. A lone VW Caddy among Grey Nomads in their RVs and 4WDs towing caravans. It’s incredible to see, in less than a year, what tourism has brought to the towns. A couple of the towns had gift stores selling souvenirs of the silo for that town (I wish I bought a tea towel or two). It will be interesting to see what another year brings.

 

With Kaffeine’s piece finished and reportedly a second phase of works being organised, I am very keen to get back on the road and revisit these sites.

Melboure to Adelaide and back again

Back at the beginning of August, my partner and I went on a five day road trip to Adelaide, coming back via the Silo Art Trail in North West Victoria.

We’ve been together for almost 10 years at this point, but this was the first time that the two of us had actually gone away together. We had made a few trips to Sydney, but that was to visit my family. This time it was just the two of us.

The first day we spent on the road from Melbourne to McLaren Vale. This meant a lot of time in the car, but it did cement that our typical road trip food is whatever the local bakery can supply us with. My partner is a fussy eater and a vegetarian to boot, but at the least he can have a salad roll. My bakery treat of choice is usually a pie. And some kind of pastry. Always pastry.

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We stopped off along the way to take photos of things by the side of a road – an old building that had been turned into a massive antiques barn in Beaufort, the terrifying Giant Koala at Dadswell Bridge, a rock formation that bizarrely has been turned into a place for people to graffiti on, and a pink lake. There was a Makatron piece in the middle of nowhere. Then there were the massive silos painted by Guido van Helton in Coonalpyn that we drove through in the pitch black night and definitely did not expect to see – we weren’t expecting painted silos until at least day five.

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We stopped for the night in McLaren Vale before my Straight Edge, non-drinker partner took me to wineries (which I will talk about in another post) the next morning. We wandered around the beaches in Port Willunga, ate at a bakery in Morphett Vale that was so warm and friendly, especially when I tried my first Kitchener Bun.

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I was told by a friend that a Kitchener Bun was one of those must-try, South Australian delicacies. It’s essentially like a cream bun, but instead of being a sweet bread stuffed with cream and raspberry jam, they do the same to a bun with more of a doughnut texture. The bun is even rolled in sugar before being filled. It was all my pastry dreams in one creation.

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Wine regions are some of the most beautiful parts of the world to me. The symmetry of the vines, even when they’re bare, always take my breath away. Quite a few vineyards had oxalis blooming between the rows so the bright, yellow flowers were visible from the road. Not to mention the olive trees that lined the roads, heavy with fruit – I definitely bought olives at one of the wineries.

That evening we made our way into Adelaide, spending the evening together wandering around a city I had only ever visited for about an hour before, on the way to a work conference in the Barossa.

So the third day was my first full day in Adelaide. After a sleepless night, we got up pretty early to go get breakfast from Jamface at Adelaide Central Market. Poh Ling Yeow is one of my all-time favourite Masterchef alumni, so it was great to sample her food, even if it only was granola and a Melting Moment cookie.

Markets are one of my favourite places to wander around. I love seeing the different types of food on display – like the selection of sausage at the Bratwurst stall. And before you ask, no I was not brave enough to try the Bum Burner.

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My partner had to work half the day, giving me the opportunity to spend some time wandering the city by myself and do things I enjoy that he has no interest in, like visiting the Art Gallery and the Museum, and doing a little shopping at places like Clarity Records. I got to eat a delicious lunch at a little katsu place tucked away in a tiny arcade off Rundle Mall. I had a drink in a great bar/book exchange around the corner from the hotel where the cocktails all had a decidedly literary theme (which definitely appealed to the librarian in me).

Dinner that night we splurged a little and went to Melt Pizzeria. We shared a Bianca (mozzarella, parmesan, garlic, rosemary) while my partner went with his traditional Margarita and I had the Jamon (tomato, mozzarella, rocket salad, prosciutto). It was absolutely worth the little splurge, especially as I had been craving this type of traditional style, wood-fired pizza for a number of weeks. I always say – give in to your cravings when you can!

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After another sleepless night (these were thanks to the beer garden the hotel backed onto), I was left to my own devices (read: sleep) while my partner took himself on a bit of a wander around the city to take photos. I was up and ready to go by the time he got back, however as it was a Sunday morning and it took us forever to find somewhere to have breakfast because nothing was open at our end of town. We were down near the University of South Australia and there wasn’t a café in sight. I would have settled for a McDonald’s hashbrown or three at that point, especially as we had a big day planned.

On the upside, the wander gave us the opportunity to indulge in a little street art stalking around the uni, which would set the tone for the rest of the day since we were heading to Port Adelaide to check out the artwork around the town that had been painted as a part of the Wonderwalls Festival. Port Adelaide is a really pretty little town, and the mix of the old buildings with the art was a cool juxtaposition.

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I’m going to leave the post here for now because I’m going to spend a whole post talking about the culinary highlight of day four. And day five was the Silo Art Trail, which is a whole post unto itself.

If anyone has any questions about my trip, feel free to post them in the comments below.