‘Diviner’ inspiration: Australian artist covers silos with large-scale mural

November 12, 2020

When artist Fintan Magee was asked to paint a mural on a trio of 40-meter (131 foot)-high grain silos in the small Australian town of Barraba, he decided against an archetypal image of sheep and cattle, Reuters reports.

Instead he painted a water diviner, paying tribute to a practice still used in parts of Australia where proponents believe they can find ground water with two metal rods or, as pictured in the mural, sticks.

Painted last year, it is one of dozens of large-scale murals to appear across rural Australia, turning sides of buildings, water tanks and old grain silos into striking canvasses.

“Painting walls is a bit like surfing, every wave is different, every wall is different. That’s the biggest challenge for me,” Magee told Reuters from his art studio in Sydney’s inner-western suburbs.

“Scaling and the technical things are just part of the job now.”

Many of the works were painted during a long drought that devastated communities and led to widespread water restrictions in such agricultural towns as Barraba in central New South Wales.

Magee said that during a research trip he saw a diviner working with water bore drillers during the drought, which only started to ease early this year.

While broadly considered street art, the sheer size of the murals makes them a phenomenon of their own.

“It wasn’t really until the last three or four years that projects have been growing bigger and bigger—more stuff happening in Sydney and Melbourne and also the silo thing has exploded,” said Magee.

The size has one great advantage over other forms of art: It’s almost impossible for passersby not to take it in.

“It’s absolutely gorgeous – it wasn’t here last time we came through,” said Cathy Skinner, one of several people who stopped at the Barraba mural when Reuters visited last week.

“I think he looks like Prince Harry, I think he’s wonderful,” Skinner said of the water diviner.

Research contact: @Reuters

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