Bland Shire One of Australia's Best Street Art Drawcards
Published on 12 February 2021
Three public art projects found in the Bland Shire have been recognised as some of the best public art experiences in the nation.
A sculpture, a monument and a street art trail have been announced as finalists in the 2020 Australian Street Art Awards, the winners of which will be announced on Tuesday 2 March on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
The three projects, which have helped transform Bland Shire into a leading destination for Australia’s art lovers, are: * West Wyalong Chainsaw Art, shortlisted for the Best Landmark Sculpture category. The entrance to West Wyalong was brought to life when nationally renowned chainsaw sculptor Brandon Kroon transformed a huge old tree stump into a stunning sculpture of two birds commonly found in the area, the Mallee Fowl and the Wedge Tailed Eagle. * The Big Football, up for the Best Monument or Memorial gong. Working with the Ungarie Advancement Group, Bland Shire Council commissioned an Australian first - an 800-kilogram fibreglass Sherrin football that serves as a tourist attraction and a tribute to the famous local Daniher brothers. * Bland But Not Dull or Boring Public Art Trail, a finalist in the Best Street Art Trail category. The multi-artform trail over 160 kilometres includes the two artworks listed above plus the Weethalle Silo Art, 3D murals in Mirrool and West Wyalong, a mallee fowl nest in Wyalong, the illuminated "Hope" sign on which visitors are encouraged to attach locks containing their hopes and dreams, and a globe and mural project in Ungarie paying tribute to the town’s incredible war history.
Awards Director, Liz Rivers, said “The Awards showcase shires like Bland that are using outdoor art to transform their street scapes, while educating Australians about the magnificent array of publicly-accessible art that can be found in every corner of the country.
With rigorous judging by tourism leaders from around Australia and abroad, plus second-tier auditing and due diligence, Bland Shire’s three finalist berths have the credence of the art tourism sector.
“Securing finalist places in the prestigious Awards further cements the Riverina’s reputation as bucket list destination for tourists who love to seek out art,” Ms Rivers said.
Judging focussed on the way the art has been used to attract visitors and bring the local community together safely under the challenging COVID-19 conditions. “With COVID restrictions on indoor numbers in most states and territories, street and public art is a free gift to every traveller,” Ms Rivers said.
The judges said, “These three projects are testament to Bland Shire’s innovation and commitment to raising the bar when it comes to tourism experiences for art loving Australians”.
Arts tourists from within Australia are high value visitors – they stay 42.8% longer and spend 55.9% more when travelling than domestic tourists overall, according to the Australia Council for the Arts’ Domestic Art Tourism: Connecting the Country 2020 Report.
“Australia has a long history of creating sculptures, monuments and other street art that is captivating to visitors. However, until two years ago there was no way of rewarding towns and precincts that created these art-related experiences for visitors. The Australian Street Art Awards has remedied that shortcoming,” Ms Rivers said.