Blue Mountains News
Portland’s Silo Artwork Completed
The artwork was researched by Guido over a 3 week period in February where he spoke to locals in the area and found people that had worked at the site when it was formerly a cement works and were still alive and living in Portland. Mr Van Helten’s process is to interview his subjects and take their portraits. He then works from his own photography to create his artworks.
Whilst the artwork does feature specific people, it is representative of all the workers and the cement works and marks a point in time where this site is now transitioning to something new.
“It is great that the paintings opened the doors to a place that has been closed up for so long in an exciting fun way to give the place a new life,” said Guido.
The project, which has been fully sponsored by owners of The Foundations - AWJ Civil, has become a tourism magnet to the town with almost 10,000 people estimated to have visited throughout the project.
“I was very excited to work with AWJ as they have taken the risk to put the money into such a large scale arts project without support. Often when I paint it is a shared budget with the government, but being privately sponsored by a family run organisation has been amazing,” he continued.
Visitors came for different events held at the site, such as markets and night time light displays, as well as daily visitors that enjoyed just sitting there and watching Guido work.
The project has not only attracted tourists to the site, a number of locals have also been able to reconnect with friends they had not seen for a long time as they have come out to view the works.
A community event held on Saturday 26 March attracted over 300 people on a chilly autumn night all of whom were very grateful for the amazing artwork that Guido has given to the small regional town. There has already been a significant upswing in the local economy, something that local business owners believe will continue now the project is completed.
“I have had a great time with all the community that have come down and helped out or just had a chat with me whilst I have been working on this project. It is a beautiful time of year in Portland and some of the seasonal changes I have seen have influenced the subtle colouring in the painting,” said Guido.
Throughout the project AWJ also appointed local marketing professional Rich Evans to the role of Chief Reactivation Officer to ensure that momentum gained from this early project is not lost in the coming months.
There are a range of projects and events currently being planned, the first of which will be the relaunch of the Foundations Markets in July, which will be held indoors inside the historic building during the cooler months.
“We were very lucky to have secured Guido to paint the silos on the site, and we are absolutely blown away by what he has created,” said Martin O’Connell, Managing Director of AWJ Civil.
“We have some very exciting projects being developed for the site and now we have been able to achieve this early activation, we are looking forward to opening more of the site up in the coming months as our planning process progresses,” he continued.
Next up for Guido is a trip to LaGuardia in Spain to judge an art competition and then to the US, where he will be straight into more work in the mid-west.
The Foundations and the town of Portland were very grateful to have such a renowned artist spend time and leave his mark on the town and have extended an invitation for Guido to return in the future and if his very busy schedule ever permits, we are confident he will accept.
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