Sunday, February 28, 2021

Massive Wellington Dam wall mural unveiled, boosting economy in Collie

Massive Wellington Dam wall mural unveiled, boosting economy in Collie

A massive mural painted on the side of a dam wall is already a tourist magnet for a small coal-mining town in the South West of WA.

Lead artist Guido Van Helten said the finishing touches were still being put on the 8,000-square-metre mural, which was officially unveiled on Friday.

The artwork is spread across a dam wall within the Wellington National Park, just west of Collie.

The team behind the mural’s commissioning and development believe it to be the world’s largest dam wall mural.

But Van Helten said while the mural had been described as the largest of its type that had not been his reason to paint it.

“I don’t want it to be just about that,” he said.

Impact ‘has to be seen to be believed’

The mural is part of a $1.5 million ‘mural art trail’, with 16 murals painted throughout Collie.

Funded by the state government, the mural is part of a plan to diversify the economy of the traditional coal-mining town.

Collie shire president Sarah Stanley said when the mural plan was announced last year some people were a little sceptical.

“There are people who didn’t really understand the scale of what was happening,” she said.

“We’re already starting to see lots of visitors come through who have come for single things like the mountain bike trails, the mural trails or Lake Kepwari.

“It’s good for local businesses and employment for locals.”

A massive mural is being painted across a dam wall surrounded by trees
It took months to complete the large mural.(Supplied: Taj Kempe/Six Two Three Zero)

Collie family making history

The mural is inspired by local stories and photographs, including a picture of Liam Cain and his sister playing at the Wellington Dam site as children.

Mr Cain said it was surreal to be part of such a large piece of art.

“It’s just incredible,” he said.

“This area is part of my history and now I’m part of it.

“I can come back in 50 years’ time with my grandkids and show them.”

A teenage boy and girl holding photos of people at a dam
Liam and Ashlinn Cain with some of the photos that inspired the mural artwork.(ABC South West: Anthony Pancia)

An organisational feat

The artwork is titled ‘reflections’ and required a specially designed scaffolding platform to paint it.

Guido Van Helten said he did not know how much paint had been used but said the key to coping with such a large piece of work was organisation.

“You need a good plan to put it all together,” he said.

“It took all my waking hours, from very early in the morning, all the time.”

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