The wheels have been set in motion for a massive art project to take place in Portland, with internationally acclaimed artist Guido van Helten visiting this week.
The Brisbane street-artist hosted a meeting at Portland RSL on Wednesday, February 14, to receive input for the mural he has been commissioned to paint on eight silos at the old cement works.
Mr van Helten was approached by AWJ Civil, the owner of the site, (renamed ‘The Foundations’) to paint the silos.
In 2015 Mr van Helten’s large scale portraits on decommissioned grain silos in Brim in the Wimmera region of Victoria drew international attention and a much-needed tourism boost to nearby towns.
“It was about last year when we thought let’s contact him,” The Foundations managing director Martin O’Connell said.
“He said he absolutely loved the idea, loved the area and the history of the site.
“He now does a lot more work internationally than in Australia, and he said he wanted a marquee solo project in NSW. And he has chosen Portland.
“Really the outcome we are looking for is creating more interest in the town, it’s a great attraction for the grey nomad market, the campers, just that thing we can use to promote a bit of interest in the site, which is still in its early planning stages.”
At a meeting held in Portland in August last year long-term plans for the Portland Cement Works were announced by planning consultant Kris Leck, including 325 residential lots.
He said more interest in the area was needed for property development to be viable. The silo mural, as well as ‘glamping’ and fishing in the site’s two dams were some of the ways the company were looking at drawing tourists to the village.
“If the Yesteryear murals attract 1000 people a year, this guy would attract 10,000,” Mr Leck said.
Portland resident John Kearns said the meeting on Wednesday was well-attended by locals.
“It was a very encouraging presentation and video. It could be quite an exciting development for the cement works,” he said.
Mr O’Connell said van Helten planned to commence the murals before Easter this year. The subject of the mural will be informed by his interaction with Portland residents.
“He will be here for a week-and-a-half or so, based in town, going around and meeting a number of people,” Mr O’Connell said.
One of the first people the artist will meet with is Portland signwriter Ron Bidwell, Mr O’Connell said.