9 March 2021

Heesco's 'holiday' in the Hilltops leaves a lasting impression

| Edwina Mason
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Artist Heesco working on mural on old flour mill silos at Harden-Murrumburrah.

Melbourne-based Mongolian street artist Heesco working on the heritage mural on the old flour mill silos at Harden-Murrumburrah. Photo: Keith Ward.

He might have been on the shade side of a silo for the best part of six weeks in January, but Heesco Khosnaran felt like he was on holiday when he visited Harden-Murrumburrah.

The Mongolian street artist has just returned to his hometown of Melbourne having just completed a majestic mural on the side of the twin towns’ towering epicentre – the old flour mill – which has left locals and visitors agape.

The mammoth full colour depiction of people at work on a farm was put to a public vote in 2020 and the final result – a reflection of the deep historical significance of the mills to the Harden-Murrumburrah community – is now the 45th silo to be included on the Australian Silo Art Trail.

Artist Heesco standing in front of silo mural in Harden-Murrumburrah.

Heesco standing in front of his recently completed silo mural in Harden-Murrumburrah. Photo: Supplied.

It’s also another mammoth masterpiece for Heesco’s growing collection of silo art, with nearby Grenfell and Weethalle silos also part of his portfolio.

But his memories of visiting the Hilltops region were only enhanced by a catchup with his old university buddy, Stacey Holmes, of Wombat.

“To have an old mate nearby to show me around was good,” he says. “That just made it more special.”

By morning Heesco and Stacey were tourists, and then when the heat of the day passed by the silo, offering some midsummer shade, Heesco would climb aboard his boom lift and create art.

Using a grid pattern, sprays and “whatever worked” to complete the task, he said the two most challenging aspects of the job were access to the silos – from the garden next door – and the corrugated iron shed sitting alongside them.

“We had to dig out some platforms so the machine could be level and so I could access the walls – that was the challenge initially,” he says.

“And corrugation; when you have wind you tend to overspray and the ridges catch it so it can get quite tricky. I needed the right weather conditions, but it was OK for the most part.”

For Heesco, there was no imagining he would be painting silos when he attended Sydney College of the Arts.

But on Tuesday, 2 March, his collaborative efforts in the Murray Mallee country of South Australia were recognised when the Karoonda Viterra Silos were named Best of the Best in the 2020 Australian Street Art Awards.

Artwork on Karoonda Viterra Silos in South Australia.

Heesco’s work at Karoonda Viterra Silos in South Australia – a collaborative project with Illuminart – was named Best of the Best at the 2020 Australian Street Art Awards. Photo: Supplied.

The awards showcase the ultimate Australian destinations where visitors can see epic, world-class street and public art that’s accessible and enjoyable all year round.

The 14 vertically stacked Karoonda Silos, which are still operative, are Australia’s first day and night silos.

They innovatively combine Heesco’s permanently painted mural, with the walls adorned by changing art projections by night.

“This was a particularly unique experience for me because I had to create a work at each end of the silos that allowed space for the nighttime projection of art,” he says. “It’s very interactive and clever, almost like a giant TV screen where all sorts of artists’ works – photography, sculpture, painting – can be shown on a large scale.”

Heesco says it is good to see alternative forms of art being embraced.

“It’s great people are getting awards for progressiveness,” he says. “A lot of silo art is quite conservative so it’s good to see people are embracing other art forms.”

The Harden Murrumburrah Regional Development Corporation said Heesco has changed the twin towns for the better.

“You and your work will be ingrained in this region forever,” said the organisation.

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Judith Ruskin4:43 pm 13 Mar 21

This is a lovely painting of a lovely aspect of this town and surrounding areas. Another historical feature for this old Town, my Birthplace.

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