No violence call for Mallee Track silo art trail

Artist Ian Coate's impression of a Remembrance-themed silo on the Mallee Track silo art trail.

Artist Ian Coate's impression of a Remembrance-themed silo on the Mallee Track silo art trail.

A MILDURA councillor says a commemorative silo art project planned for the Mallee Track should steer clear of violent wartime imagery.

In a social media post, Cr Ali Cupper said the Remembrance Silo Art Trail should depict tragedy, rather than images of “soldiers with menacing expressions using war horses and bayonets to charge at an enemy”.

The $1.1 million trail is one of Mildura Regional Development’s “lighthouse projects” and has been designed to honour Australia’s war history while attracting tourists to small towns along the Mallee Highway.

If the plan is realised, silos at Ouyen, Galah, Walpeup, Torrita, Underbool, Linga, Cowangie, Murrayville, Carina and Panitya would be painted with artwork honouring the military contributions of Australians from conflicts past and present alongside accompanying augmented reality equipment that presents a history lesson at each site.

Military artist Ian Coate, from Western Australia, has designed impressions of what the Mallee Track Remembrance silos could look like, with imagery commemorating the Australian Light Horse charge at Beersheba and Gallipoli landing in World War I, through to recent peacekeeping missions and conflict in Afghanistan.

Mr Coate is expected to join an artists’ committee that shapes the final design of the 10 silos, which would also consider community input.

Cr Cupper, whose grandfather was a veteran of the Kokoda campaign, suggested the community be invited to sift through records for images of family veterans to honour on the silos.

She said images of a Mallee mother hugging her only son goodbye for the last time or phrases from letters written by Mallee boys fighting on the Western Front would be more appropriate than those used in the mock-ups.

“In terms of the silo project, I’ve been told the violent depictions are a good idea because they reflect the reality of war,” she said.

“But according to my family history, the reality is not captured in the fight but in the tragic, personal, private loss of life, limb and human potential.”

Mayor Mark Eckel welcomed the silo art initiative which he said would generate economic activity for the Mallee track.

“Mallee Track residents will be fully engaged in shaping this project with community consultation in the Murrayville and Ouyen areas and a role in the final decision on the artwork and what it depicts,” Cr Eckel said. 

“The artwork will have an authentic connection with the community, and it’s this connection that should drive such a project.”​

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