Public Art Takes Flight in Northam

Public Art Takes Flight in Northam

FORM, in partnership with the Shire of Northam, CBH Group and MAURI, have engaged artist Amok Island to transform the façade of the old Northam Flour Mill, reinvigorating the iconic gateway to the State’s largest inland town as you enter via the Avon Bridge.

Located in the picturesque Avon Valley, Northam is in the midst of reimagining its role as the beating heart of the Wheatbelt. Northam’s identity has previously been defined by agriculture and transport, serviced by the vast network of arterial roads that branch out from the town to the wider Wheatbelt region. Along with its proximity to the Perth CBD; calendar of popular annual events such as the Avon Valley Descent, and the National Hot Air Ballooning Championships; the impressive presence of the state-of the-art Aboriginal cultural learning centre, Bilya Koort Boodja; a Brutalist library designed by renowned Bulgarian Architect Iwan Iwanoff;  hidden wine bars; and the newly renovated Farmer’s Home Hotel, designed by Dimmity Walker and Michael Patroni of spaceagency architects, that combines contemporary design with old-world charm; Northam’s reputation as a tourist destination and place to live, is on the rise.

The addition and procurement of public art has been central to bringing a new wave of energy to Northam. This new mural on the Flour Mill will become one of a handful already in existence, which includes the town’s most-visited, a mammoth 38-metre high work painted across eight CBH Group wheat silos by international artists Hense and Phlegm, for FORM’s PUBLIC Silo Trail project in 2015.

Shire of Northam President, Cr Chris Antonio, said of the project, “It is fantastic to see various groups come together to contribute to such a worthwhile project – this mural will not only compliment the tourist-attracting murals at the CBH Avon site, but also provide great views, and help to reinvigorate this part of Northam town.”

Amok Island’s work on the Flour Mill will use the Town’s heritage character as a backdrop to celebrate one of Northam’s natural and considerably unique attractions, the white swan and its home on the banks of the Avon River.

Built in 1867, the Northam Flour Mill is a well-loved major landmark with historical significance as a pioneer industry in the district. It has provided employment for local people in the town and surrounding area for over 140 years, and was responsible for generating Northam’s first electricity. Over the years, the mill has undergone multiple changes in ownership and renovations but one thing remains constant, its status in symbolising the importance of agriculture, in particular wheat, for the town and Shire of Northam, with MAURI currently occupying the building.

David Davies, Site Leader Northam & Malaga WA, from MAURI explained, “We are very excited to be a part of this initiative. As the largest food manufacturer in Northam, MAURI, are proud of the collaboration with the Shire of Northam, CBH Group and FORM, in bringing this art project to life. It will be a focal point for Northam, attracting visitors to our fantastic town to showcase what this region has to offer. The mill has always played a major role in Northam and we are delighted to be a part of this vibrant community.”

In 1896, almost 30 years after the establishment of the Flour Mill in Northam, British colonists first introduced White Swans to Western Australia. In the early 1900’s, Northam’s Mayor Oscar Bernard brought the swans to the town, which over time has now become the only place in Australia that the species continues to survive and breed naturally.

On his involvement in the project Amok Island elaborated, “I am very excited to start my latest artwork installation on the old mill building in Northam featuring a flock of swans taking off from the water. It is rare to be able to paint an artwork on such a beautiful old historic building, and I think these types of canvases often combine really well with my more modern minimalistic style. In my research I found that the river right next to the mill is a spot often visited by the white swan and is used as a nesting ground, so I am excited to start painting and hopefully see some swans fly by whilst working on the mural!”

About Amok Island

Amok Island is a multidisciplinary artist from the Netherlands, based in Perth, Western Australia. If he weren’t an artist, he would be a biologist. Heavily inspired by early naturalists’ scientific illustrations, his work embodies the accuracy and precision representative of technical drawings, used for identification purposes. Natural exploration and conservation are a strong and consistent undercurrent of Amok Island’s artistic practice. A lifelong fascination with nature, and her relationships and history with mankind, drive his obvious appreciation and obsession with his subjects and his urge to direct the attention of his audience to them.  Amok Island has created murals in over 25 countries worldwide and exhibited his work in Australia, the Netherlands and Japan.

Provided by FORM

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