Yarram Water Tower mural nominated for art award

Heesco Khosnaran addresses the crowd at the mural launch in Yarram. Photo: Andrew Harrison

Stefan Bradley

The Heesco Town ‘Water Tower Mural’ in Yarram will be attracting star power in Queensland in March as a finalist in the Best Mega Mural category of the 2023 Australian Street Art Awards.

The Water Tower Mural, officially launched in April 2023, was the 25th, and what was intended to be the final mural in the ‘Heesco Town’ series, which are murals painted around Yarram by Mongolian-Australian muralist and project namesake Heesco – real name Khosnaran Khurelbaatar. It’s a joint effort with ‘The Friends of Heesco Town’, a group of Yarram locals who are involved in getting the Heesco Town murals off the ground.

Heesco has completed two more murals in Yarram since the water tower.

One is a small mural located on top of the Bean Pedlar cafe. Another depicts local hero Robin Smith, who rescued kidnapped hostages from an escaped prisoner, who broke into a Wooreen school in 1977.

The top part of the Water Tower Mural was designed by president of The Friends of Heesco Town, Wayne Tindall, and depicts local landmarks and wildlife; the lower part was designed by Gunaikurnai elder Sandra Patten and depicts traditional Gunaikurnai art, along with hand shapes inspired by the Sea of Hands events held since 1997, which Ms Patten was a big part of.

Other Heesco Town murals have won Best Street Art Trail at the Australian Street Art Awards 2020 and 2021.

Reflecting on the nomination, Heesco told the Gippsland Times it was great to be acknowledged again through the Australian Street Art Awards.

“It’s always so exciting, but it wasn’t just about me. It’s such a big group effort,” Heesco said.

Heesco said the tower required about 300 litres of acrylic paint. He also had to do an online course on radiation awareness, as he was painting near mobile phone antennas on the tower.

“I had to wear this radiation detector machine on me at all times. It’s kind of like microwaves. I don’t think I was ever going to be exposed too much, but it’s just a safety measure,” he said.

Heesco completed the Heesco Town Water Tower Mural in early April last year. Photo: John Morgan.

Heesco painted the tower in two parts over a number of weeks, having to leave the project every now and then for other paintings or at mercy of the weather.

He could paint for about 10 hours in one day if the weather allowed, otherwise it may just be a few hours. But sometimes the tower would shield him from the rain, so painting could still continue.

“People couldn’t believe I was painting in the rain,” he said.

“Some other days were just so windy. Literally, I was trying to work and it was just impossible, but I got it done.”

Aside from clear coating some of the existing murals to prevent UV fade, Heesco currently doesn’t have any new Yarram murals on the horizon, but we’re sure he’ll back in his adopted town. Afterall, the Heesco Town project was originally just 10 murals, and now consists of 27.

Founded in 2018, the Australian Street Art Awards’ Charter is to “provide Australian communities, including those in remote and regional areas, with a means to be recognised for outdoor art that is being promoted to make their destination and our collective country a more attractive place to visit and explore”.

The Best Mega Mural category is for “original, permanent or projected artwork of more than 300 square metres that has been specifically created for the site and is publicly visible”.

For more information about the Yarram Heesco Town Mural Trail, visit heescotown.com

Winners of the 12 categories will be announced at a Gala dinner at the conclusion of the 2024 Art of Attraction Tourism Summit, to be held in Caloundra, Sunshine Coast in Queensland from March 6-8.

Check out the Water Tower Mural at 7 Nightingale Street, Yarram.