Giant works of art transforming silos

The concrete grain silos at Transport Waimate's Queen St yard have been getting a lot of attention lately.

Since 1934, the four hand-built 30m-tall silos have towered over the town of about 2700, but heads have turned this week as work begins to transform each one into a large-scale mural.

Transport Waimate owner Barry Sadler said many people had come up with ideas for the silos, but recently in the "spur of the moment'' he called up Waimate artist Bill Scott and the ball got rolling.

 Waimate artist Bill Scott's latest murals will be his largest canvasses yet. He has begun work...
Waimate artist Bill Scott's latest murals will be his largest canvasses yet. He has begun work on the 30m by 8m 1934 concrete grain silos at the centre of Waimate this week. Photo: Hamish MacLean
"We had the silos; we wanted to do something that would be interesting, and we were lucky enough in Waimate that we sat down and we found four iconic moments associated with Waimate people that would have fitted,'' Mr Sadler said.

"And then when I explained the ideas to Bill, Bill put a slant on it that just worked.''

Perhaps the silos transformed into public art pieces could "put Waimate on the map a wee bit more'', but at its heart the work was a celebration of the town.

"This is about Waimate, this thing. It's done by people of Waimate, for Waimate,'' Mr Sadler said.

Mr Scott began work on the first of four 30m by 8m curved monochromatic scenes on Monday.

He said at the beginning of the week he was coming to terms with size and shape of the silos, which were about twice as tall as the largest mural he had painted in roughly two decades as a muralist.

But he expected to finish the first image this week.

Four grain silos at Transport Waimate's Queen St yard are the canvasses for Waimate artist Bill...
Four grain silos at Transport Waimate's Queen St yard are the canvasses for Waimate artist Bill Scott's latest murals.
The representation of the 1854 meeting of local Maori, led by Te Huruhuru, with the area's first European settler, Michael Studholme, faces the nearby 1934 monument that marks the meeting place.

Mr Scott's work on the silos, already "iconic in themselves'', had stopped passersby, who would pull out their phones for a photograph or pull up for a yarn - when he was not 30m above ground in a boom lift.

"That will hopefully grow,'' Mr Scott said.

"That's the whole deal of it really, the young ones, the kids going to the pool, looking up - and the next question will be `Who's that, Mum?'.''

Mr Scott would not comment in detail on the three other images planned for the remaining silos.

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