Silo canvas: Signs good for Portland’s new outdoor artworks

Picture: WIMMERA MAIL-TIMES.
Picture: WIMMERA MAIL-TIMES.

Brim in Western Victoria has a population of about 260. It’s hot, dry, dusty and, like many tiny villages set in rural and remote Australia, struggled to find a way to breathe economic life into the area. 

It’s the kind of place where people parked in the middle of the street to have a chat, secure in the knowledge that the people driving into town to visit the corner store/sports shop or the hardware across the street would be happy to wait a couple of minutes. 

Its only major physical asset was a huge set of four decommissioned GrainCorp silos on the outskirts of the village. Handed over as a canvas to artist Guido van Helten, they emerged as a poignant visual nod to the area’s agricultural roots. 

Now lit by floodlights at night to allow people to view it against an enormous sky of stars, the Brim silos have become an international tourism sensation. They served as a backdrop to an outdoor episode of Channel Ten’s Masterchef last season. 

And now it’s Portland’s turn. 

For Portland to boast its own silo art is a perfect fit. It is already a town with tightly bound links to large-scale outdoor artworks. Portland – Signs of Yesteryear – and the enduring efforts of the Wallnuts have made the town synonymous with wall murals. An even larger scale artwork is the next logical step.

And Portland, as a tourist destination to view this kind of art spectacle, is a great deal more accessible for visitors. Just two-and-half hours from Sydney, with close by amenities and accommodation, Portland is an easy day-trip for international travellers as well as grey nomads. 

In the grain belt near Brim, other silos have been painted by various artists to make an art trail. This was certainly an asset to the Yarriambiack Shire in encouraging visitors, as Brim sits four hours away from Melbourne and its closest town with over 10,000 people is Horsham, a good hour away.

Portland, on the other hand, is in easy reach of Lithgow and its amenities, not to mention the Blue Mountains and Bathurst district. The remaining question will be, what will adorn the silos at Portland? Will it be another Sign of Yesteryear, reflecting the style of those throughout the town, or can we expect to see something a little bit different? Bold in its monochrome, the Brim silos have been described as ‘breathtaking, amazing and unbelievable’. 

Let’s hope that Portland’s addition is just as spectacular.