AFTER living in the shadow of drought and economic uncertainty, Karoonda is set for a revival, with an Australian-first project to light up the town.
Classed as eligible for the Drought Communities Fund, the District Council of Karoonda East Murray last year received $1 million in federal funding to spend on community projects.
Chief executive officer Matthew Morgan said the council used the money to build a new childcare centre and community hub and upgrade local infrastructure.
But they also wanted to give the town's main street a new lease on life and encourage visitors to "linger a little longer".
"We had seen the benefits of silo art projects in other small communities, so we thought why not use our prominent and active silo to attract people to the town and support our local businesses," he said.
Our silos will be the first in Australia with permanent paint by day and projection by night.
But with so many new silo artworks popping up across the country, he said they needed to make sure their project was unique.
"That is where the concept of day and night came into it," he said.
"Our silos will be the first in Australia with permanent paint by day and projection by night - two separate canvases to create two different experiences."
He said the night side of the project was a no-brainer after successfully collaborating with Illuminart in April last year, when local school children's art was projected on the silos as part of the Karoonda Farm Fair.
But this time, the concept would be more permanent.
As to the day side of the project, street art studio Juddy Roller was approached, after handling the Waikerie and Coonalpyn silo artworks, and renowned artist Heesco Khosnaran was commissioned for the Karoonda project.
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Karoonda East Murray mayor Caroline Phillips said securing an artist of Heesco's calibre was a coup, after making his mark spectacularly on silos in Grenfell and Weethalle in NSW.
"The Weethalle silo was the first to be painted in NSW and was hand-picked to feature on a national postage stamp," she said. "Our artwork will combine with the incredible illuminations to deliver an attraction for Karoonda that is absolutely unique when compared to others nationally."
What to project on the silos went out for public consultation in March, with the artworks chosen by the council and Illuminart.
The permanent projector built at the silos revealed the successful artists during the Colour Up Karoonda festival on June 16.
The projections will feature on the Viterra silos from sunset until 9pm every night until July 18, after which the giant canvas will be used for other exhibitions.
"While other towns on Australia's silo art trail usually only feature one or two artists, we are incredibly lucky to showcase the work of many talented South Australians," Caroline said.
Heesco also unveiled his concept for the silo mural at the festival, which pays tribute to Karoonda's farming heritage, featuring Merino sheep, a kelpie working dog, bush setting and historic steam train.
He began painting last week and will continue every day until June 30, weather permitting.
Heesco said it was the biggest silo he had painted.
He will follow a digital mock-up he sketched from images collected from across the region.
"There will be some minor adjustments as I go along, but I'll just do one silo at a time," he said.
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Mr Morgan said the community was "buzzing".
"We hope the day/night silo project really kick-starts the local economy," he said.
"We have seen evidence from towns like Kimba, where they have noticed an increase in visitation of about 30 per cent since their silos were painted.
"Projects like this just go to the heart of what it means to be a local in Karoonda and has reinforced our town pride."
He said some local areas had received much-needed rain recently, with many paddocks turning green.
"While we are really excited about the silos being painted and projecting on them, having them full at the end of the year will be the icing on the cake," he said.
Viterra eastern region operations manager Jo Klitscher said the company had been working closely with the council to drive the project - the sixth Viterra silo to be painted.
"Viterra is proud to support projects in local communities where we operate," she said.
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