I’m not new to Stanthorpe, but each time I visit I see something unnoticed or something that wasn’t there last time. Like the mural by Guido van Helten whose faces on railway carriages I featured earlier this year. He has painted a centenarian, one of the first of Stanthorpe’s substantial Italian population. The subtle portrait shows wrinkles and strength as Angelo Valiante looks up towards the main street.
Just around the corner sits the monkey, an allusion to the low temperatures in this atypically cold part of Queensland where it does indeed become cold enough “to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.”
On the pavement nearby are tile inlays, hand-made by Terri Welles and Maggie Brockie, with tiny images of aspects of Stanthorpe life, including a number of monkeys and stuff you’ll find in the newsagent on the corner.
Further along the main street down an alley is a mural celebrating the Apple and Grape Festival, a highlight of the year in this fruit growing area. It’s down-side is reflected in the irreverent renaming to the Grapple and Rape Fesival, but the festival also showcases Stanthorpe’s impressive food and wine offerings.
At last I’m beginning to pay attention to the artist behind street art. This one makes it easy with a flamboyant signature. I find out that Drapl is a renowned graffiti artist based in Brisbane, and head of a graffiti murals team: suddenly graffiti has become a business. His style is “edgy, chic, versatile and innovative”, so says his website, and local councils are listed amongst his clients.
Over the road, diagonally opposite the historic post office, is a community mosaic made out of an intriguing collection of morsels and scraps: shells, tarnished cutlery, shards of broken china, old horseshoes and tools, coins, a cracked wooden ladle, a bobbin and thimble. It too is attributed to Terri Welles and Maggie Brockie and is called “Hidden cultures”: it’s made from things locals donated, brought together in a layered landscape.
I only notice a brightly painted cow in the vet’s front yard on my last day. Apparently the vet had a spare cow, and held a competition in the local primary schools. She’s painted cheerfully with the winning design.