The silos were painted in April and May 2018 by artist Guido Van Helten.

Using the site of the mural as a natural focus, the artist heard from former employees and Portland natives alike to piece together a view of this former industrial community known as ‘the town that built Sydney.’

To gain an understanding of Portland inhabitants, the project began with a barbecue at the local RSL (Returned and Services League of Australia) in order to speak with them and learn more about their town. This also helped identify characters to speak with in order to learn more about life in the town and how the Cement Works has impacted the lives of those there.

After a few visits around town, it became clear that a view to the past was ubiquitous among locals, as if the remaining structures were a visceral, material representation of all the memories and stories that were in the minds of Portland.

The six individuals represented in the artwork are all former employees who shared their recollections of working at the Portland Cement Works and how their lives have been impacted by the industry in their town.

From smoking breaks to municipal pools and company cottages, forbidden swimming holes, tragic losses, and unions, their anecdotes have given a unique insight in to life in a small town, labour and the affects that unencumbered industry can play in the daily lives of people.

Read more about this project at Guido Van Helten