8 October 2022

Heesco's fully wrapped to return to complete Murrumburrah Mills

| Edwina Mason
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Before Heesco Khosnaran started painting the western side of the silos in Harden-Murrumburrah, Harden Fire & Rescue washed them down, with water pumping done by the Demondrille Brigade and Cunningar Rural Fire Service. Image: Harden Murrumburrah Arts Council.

It is with regret that the committee of the Silo Art Fest has cancelled the Fest due to wet weather. It was to be held on Sunday, October 8 from 10 am to 3 pm at Mill Park, Murrumburrah. The Fest is to be rescheduled for March 2023 during the Hilltops Art Trail. If you have any queries, please call Greg on 0487 028 657.

The heat and dust that greeted Heesco Khosnaran when he last came face-to-face with concrete in Harden-Murrumburrah in 2021 has now been replaced with bracing winds and passing storms.

As the Mongolian-Australian street artist readies himself for his second run at the historic Murrumburrah Mills at the centre of the South West Slopes twin towns, he’s watching the skies with interest from his heightened position.

But by his last stroke of the brush, or spray gun, the twin silos towering over the town will be fully wrapped in his artwork – a first for NSW.

READ ALSO Heesco to return to fully wrap Murrumburrah silo

This time there’s a deadline which means Heesco’s timing needs to be impeccable.

In a town that doesn’t do anything by halves, the first ever Silo Art Fest will take place on Sunday, 9 October, just one day after Harden’s popular annual Kite Festival on Saturday, 8 October.

Heesco will be officially opening the inaugural event and joined by two international artists in Wagga Wagga-born, New York-based street artist Damien Mitchell and Canadian Luke Brown who will travel from the United States to demonstrate their skills and participate in a Q&A session.

“Ha, ha there’s no pressure, I just need to get it done,” Heesco said. “It’s been a bit rainy so it’s progressing slowly at the moment.”

The front side of the Harden silos – depicting the district’s wheat farming heritage and the significant role the mill played in that – was completed by Heesco in February 2021.

That project alone has given the town and the historic mill – which dates back to 1865 – a new lease on life. Its vast history has seen the famous local “Allsopps Silver Spray Flour” win many awards, including 25 country society-recognised awards.

In 1919, a major fire occurred on site and within three years the flour mill complex was rebuilt, including the construction of the concrete twin silos within the complex.

The new system included the train carriage of raw product to the site, off the Sydney-Melbourne train line system, directly to the twin silos for storage with an electrical auger system implemented to carry the product up into the twin silos.

It was considered quite “revolutionary” at the time.

In 1991 the silos were mothballed, and storage discontinued.

The building is now privately owned by Greg and Robyn Medway and the silo installation – which now enjoys a spot among the multiple on the National Silo Trail – was seen as a way to lift tourism in the twin towns.

The new mural on the Murrumburrah Mills will be officially opened by Heesco on Sunday October 9. Image: Keith Ward

The new west-facing artwork will reflect the town’s gold mining history and features musicians from that era, attracting even more happy snappers.

Now, hand in hand with the annual Kite Festival, the skies above Harden – be they grey or blue that weekend – will be filled with guaranteed colour as professional kite flyers from all over Australia descend on the town’s racecourse with their array of beautiful, colourful, eye-catching kites.

Here giant whales, crabs, butterflies, spiders, and SpongeBob SquarePants – to name a few – duke it out for wind, space and pace while on the ground visitors from throughout the Canberra and Hilltops region mingle at markets.

Harden-Murrumburrah Arts Council is encouraging people to stay over and experience both events.

READ ALSO Daughter of Hilltops coffee family turns her hand to tea

They say the Silo Art Fest, especially given the new artwork, reflects the community’s move towards a higher level of artistic achievement which encourages local artists and musicians and welcomes those from the international stage.

Already this year, the twin towns have welcomed Aussie pianist, Emma Stephenson, from Brooklyn, New York and Bach in the Dark with nationally-acclaimed musicians including Dr Deborah De Graaff, Australia’s leading flautist.

This move toward internationally accomplished musicians has been backed by Harden Regional Development Corporation (HRDC) and the Silo Sounds Inc.

This collective of elite musicians and music lovers resided in Harden Murrumburrah and is led by Dr Deborah de Graaff, Leah Lock and Stewart Bruce, who are dedicated to presenting top-end recital experiences in the beautiful Ross Memorial Uniting Church in Murrumburrah.

With the recent purchase of an exceptional Yamaha SX6 recital piano, they say they are ready to “take on the world” of chamber music and already have a diary filling up with magnificent soloists and chamber music performers.

One such occasion is Saturday evening, 8 October when Dr Deborah de Graaff, on clarinet, and Tonya Lemoh, on piano, present Rags Bags and Tangos: Music of Dance, Glamour and Enchantment.

This night of music by Gershwin, Piazzola, Kats-Chernin, Pikler, Templeton, Debussy and Ginestera will be completed by a wonderful candlelit supper.

The Silo Art Fest the following day is encouraging people to get involved with art through hands-on experience of First Nation weaving, sculpture, paint pouring, painting, wood-turning and patina alchemy.

And, in a salute to the town’s heritage, amid the bush bands and hot dampers, there’s the opportunity to try your luck at gold panning.

For more information on the Harden Kite Festival click here and for more details on the National Silo Art Trail click here.

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