Is Australian Silo Art Racist?

More from Artraitors.


Australia’s obsession with bad art done big continues to run, with country towns across the nation falling over themselves to be part of this embarrassing trend. There are even “Silo Trails”, (or should that be “trials”?) where you can plan a trip based around the intersection of the world’s least imaginative artists with the least imaginative commissioning bodies.

But are they racist? Silo art is, with some (sadly too few) exceptions, overwhelmingly old whitey nostalgia. Backward looking, blinkered, generally barely rising above the level of chocolate box kitsch of a white Australia of early 20th century. Often the topic will be tea towel style paintings of draught horses, shearers, steam trains, or Diggers/slouch hat based works executed with the skills of hack commercial artists pre photoshop. And many of the artists are internationally based! Is it not absurd to get an artist from say Hawaii or Mongolia to come all…

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About AHC McDonald

Comedian, artist, photographer and critic. From 2007 to 2017 ran the culture and satire site The Worst of Perth
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9 Responses to Is Australian Silo Art Racist?

  1. Guy Crommelin says:

    If promotes the white story in rural Australia, to the exclusion of the Aboriginal story then it a wrong and an outdated view of who Australia is and represents. I wouldn’t call it racist as such. It’s just in poor taste and dumb.


  2. Megan E Gutsell says:

    The notion that these murals are racists because Aboriginal elements aren’t included is absolutely ridiculous. Many of the Silo designs were selected to honor the relevant towns progress and history. NOT the lands history. The towns and cities we see today were all established by white settlers despite sharing or encroachment land. There’s no hate or malice in the murals. People need to stop using that word.


    • AHC McDonald says:

      What rubbish. What do they honour? A tiny slice of whiteness from the early 20th century. God forbid they think of the future either. And this is somehow not racist? Cmon. You know that isn’t true.


      • Guy Crommelin says:

        There’s not much going on in the bush – big company farms and dying local services and employment.

        If our regional development organisations could get a bit of imagination into their programs, maybe we could have new relevant things on the silos.


        • AHC McDonald says:

          Well yes. I’m of the opinion that even something good (and they can never be good) would still be a terrible idea. Such a boring concept.
          But do these towns think they have a future? Why not that then? Was shearing in 1930 really the high point?
          I think amazing projections for a month with something wild could work.


          • Guy Crommelin says:

            Dunno, I’m neither an artist nor an art historian. I don’t mind in principle something man-made being imposing in a natural landscape, but it has to be at least interesting to justify doing it imo.

            I know your position on silo painting Andrew, and I understand that too.


  3. Megan E Gutsell says:

    You seem to know very little about Silo art past writing comically and copy and paste a hack website dedicated to Silo art and they are a very hack website.
    4/6 silos in WA feature flora, fauna or geometric shapes on their silos. Absolutely nothing to do with ”slices of whiteness” you’re being ridiculous.

    Pingrup features a dog, a man and a scene from the Pingrup races. All element the artist felt captured the spirit of the town, which was the brief for the mural ( Town history… town was built 97 years ago ) .. The last mural is cartoonish and has a couple of blue people. it’s meant to be symbolic and tell a story of the areas landforms and it’s agricultural history.

    I’m a little curious what you’d like to see on a silo? What’s acceptable these days for a town to paint instead of simply rolling over and dyeing quietly and actually being proactive and fighting to boost tourism in their slowly decaying towns?

    For me the future of Australia is multicultural. Silo artists agree and it shows in silo art present in Haywood / Sheeps Hill Vic and Walgett, Bermagui & Eden nsw… just to name a few.


    • AHC McDonald says:

      Well I’m sure I know more than most. I also take issue on how bad they are. They are overwhelmingly terrible with kitschy chocolate box hack art.
      It’s also part of our lack of appreciation for our built environment that people can’t see the beauty in these structures- so that every one of them has to be ruined by having a piece of crap painted on it.
      Backwards looking and boring. I’m from the country and I know there must be people with more imagination there.


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