Western Queensland's great splash of colour
LOOKING up at the almost-complete Thallon silos, Leanne Brosnan is filled with a great sense of pride and excitement.
It's been two years of planning, paperwork, phone calls and meetings to see paint finally spray against the surface of the four, 30-metre-high, GrainCorp towers in south-west Queensland.
Watching the art literally come to life will be something the Thallon Progress Association secretary and project manager will never forget.
"I am just so pleased,” she said.
"It's an amazing, spectacular and colourful mural; it's a statement for the people of Thallon, for them to say 'we love the town we live in and it's beautiful out here'.”
While the silos are aesthetically pleasing, it's hoped the mural will bring more than just a spark of colour to the local landscape. The people of Thallon are hoping the striking picture will save their town.
Rail closures during the past 20 years, including passenger and freight services, came as a blow to the small community's population.
"We are hoping the silos will have a two-fold effect: it will boost community morale and draw more tourists into town,” Leanne said.
"It's a very special town and we believe it deserves to survive.
"We feel these little towns are just as important as the big cities.
"There are a number of us passionate about it being revived. Thallon is full of characters so it would be a real shame to see it disappear.”
The idea for a silo mural was first mooted at a community meeting, where the townsfolk were "drawing a line in the sand” and had decided it was up to them to reinvigorate their community.
At the time, southern silo murals, which have now become extremely popular, were non-existent.
"It's a case of great minds think alike,” Leanne said.
"Because we had been in the planning for two years we didn't know about the silos down south when all this started.
"So we were really pleased to hear about the southern silos because we could see the effect it was having on towns down south.”
The Thallon community will always hold a special place in Leanne's heart.
Despite dedicating the last two years to the silo project, and a previous 10 as secretary on the Thallon Progress Association, Leanne doesn't actually live in the town anymore.
She moved to Thallon in 1987 after securing her first teaching post, where she met a local lad who she later married.
However, her husband Stuart had an accident in which he became a quadriplegic, so in 2000 the couple moved to Bundaberg so he could have access to an even climate, be in closer proximity to services and have greater employment opportunities.
"I think it's the people and the community that keeps drawing us back,” Leanne said.
"I was born in between Goondiwindi and Toobeah, so this whole landscape - I think it's in your blood and you feel at home here.”
CAPTURING A COMMUNITY
HOW do you pick a picture that will sum up an entire community?
That was the question Thallon locals faced when crafting ideas for their silo mural.
They found their answer by welcoming artists Travis Vinson (Drapl) and Joel Fergie (The Zookeeper) to a meeting at the local hotel, where residents brought along their favourite photographs and shared their stories.
In the artist brief written by the talented duo, the men stated: "We want the community to look up to the silos as the sun sets each day and be reminded of why they love the land they live in”.
"When I read that, I knew we had the right artists for the job,” Leanne said.
The town's gorgeous Moonie River, and stunning sunsets and sunrises, as well as the region's rich agricultural history were the three winning elements.
Using some creative licence, the artists meshed and blended a few images together to create the final product, which has been named The Watering Hole.
Although not fully complete, the vibrant picture, which has been painted across the 30m by 40m canvas, already has people stopping in the streets.
One of the centrepiece images comes from Chantel McAlister, a well-known wool classer and photographer.
Chantel snaps pictures during her work day and captured a stunning shot of Russell Beatty from Dunwinnie, a property close to Thallon, shifting his sheep early in the morning.
While she has had her images displayed in galleries and online, there was something deeply special about her photo becoming a mainstay for Thallon.
"I am so excited about it, and I am just really humbled,” she said.
"I love that district so much. It's sort of played out my whole (wool) classing career. I have grown in that area and to now be connected with it forever, and to have my imagery up there... and for the locals to be proud of it... I am just feeling a lot of pride.”
The completed project will be unveiled at a special launch on Thursday, July 20.
- The majority of funding for the project came from The Australian Government's Regional Arts Fund, which is administered by Arts Queensland.
- Grain Corp
- The Balonne Shire Council
- Rural Affinity
- Royal Flying Doctor Service Drought and Wellbeing Project.
- Community donated $710 through a Go Fund Me Campaign.