There is a level of irony in portraying huge artworks on tiny stamps, but even at a small scale, the impressive nature of these creations is evident. The artworks have become a magnificent symbol of the local people, nature environment, history and industries that were the heart of rural communities. The Winton Wetlands Art Tank, by Guido Van Helten, is one of 74 painted water towers throughout rural Australia and one of the most photographed locations at the Winton Wetlands site.
The Art Tank is now featured in Australia Post’s latest stamp issue – Water Tower Art, released on 7 September 2020, and presented alongside works in:
- Gulargambone, New South Wales (artist, Jenny McCracken);
- Narrandera, New South Wales (artists from Apparition Media); and
- Snowtown, South Australia (artist, Vans the Omega).
The Winton Wetlands Art Tank is a stunning visual acknowledgment of local CFA volunteers which was created during the 2016 Wall-to-Wall Street Art Festival. Prior to commencing the artwork, Van Helten met with members from local Country Fire Authority (CFA) brigades to gain inspiration. The commission saw Van Helten incorporate portraits of three local volunteers, Colin Hooke from Chesney Vale Brigade, Robert Green of Taminick Brigade and Danielle Spokes of Winton Brigade, to create a multi-dimensional tribute. An unexpected but fitting compliment to the contribution of CFA volunteers to the area’s history, landscape and community, this artwork has received national and international acclaim for the striking expression it casts against the backdrop of lifeless river redgums.
While street art may be typically viewed as an urban medium, street art towns, like Benalla, are emerging across Australia. What these large-scale public artworks have in common is that they transform plain expanses, both built and natural, into vibrant and evocative boosts to tourism.
This is the third time that Australia Post have paid homage to the large-scale public murals, with the previous issues featuring Urban Street Art (2017) and Silo Art (2018) which also featured Van Helten’s silo mural in Brim, Victoria – the first silo art in eastern Australia.
Van Helten is among the world’s most prominent public mural artists and his characteristically realist, monochrome portraits can also be found on buildings in Ukraine, Poland, Spain, Belarus, Finland, Italy and America. His style is highly realistic; he often paints from photographs and is inspired by the tradition of documentary style humanist street photography.
The tank can be found in the middle of the wetlands and is part of a separate art trail within the area. Look out for other Winton Wetlands art projects on the site, such as ‘Martins Barge’, the ‘Fish Trees’or take the journey deeper into the site to see Hilda Bain and the Water Gallery.
The water tower art, silo art and rural street art can be explored and appreciated at full size via the Australian Silo Art trail, which coordinates and promotes the artwork tourist trails found across country Australia.
The Water Tower Art stamp issue is available from 7 September 2020, online, at participating Post Offices and via mail order on (1800 331 794), while stocks last.
Quotes attributable to Annette Green, one of the promoters of the Australian Silo Art Trail
“Silo art is an exciting way of promoting tourism in regional Australia, but it’s not just about the silo art, it’s about our great collection of water towers and regional street art too. With every new location added to our ‘trail’, more towns are linked together, creating an ultimate journey through regional Australia.”
“These artworks are more than just a beautiful addition to the local landscape, for many towns and communities it’s a lifeline. Many regional towns across Australia are struggling due to loss of business infrastructure, drought, bushfires and now COVID-19. Towns that have decided to join the trail are now seeing an increase in tourism, which boosts community income and community spirit”
“The Australian Silo Art Trail is one of this country’s greatest untapped tourism assets. Exposure such as the Water Tower Art stamp issue helps to bring about more public awareness of these great Australian treasures.”
Quotes attributable to Dr Dennis O’Brien, Chair, Winton Wetlands Committee of Management
“The Water Tower Art stamp issue is a great way of showcasing Van Helten’s extraordinary artwork.”
“This unlikely canvas is a breathtaking tribute to local people and a must-see for locals and visitors”.
“The Art Tank at Winton Wetlands has brought new life to a vital piece of infrastructure on our site, whilst recognising the phenomenal contribution the CFA makes to our community and social fabric.”
Photo credit: Banner image by RenSmart Photography