It’s a larger-than-life mural that covers one entire side of a central Stanthorpe building, on Queensland’s Granite Belt, and its size befits the character of the man depicted in the artwork.
Angelo Valiante went from Prisoner of War to local hero.
The Italian-born centenarian first set eyes on Stanthorpe when he arrived as a POW in 1941. From a farming family, he stepped up to help local farmers through the war years and found the Australian country life, rich soil and temperate weather to his liking.
With the war over, he returned to Italy, but only long enough to propose to the woman who had waited seven years for his reappearance. By then Stanthorpe was in Angelo’s veins and, with his new bride, he took up life in the same house he’d occupied during the war.
Fast forward sixty-five years to November 2016 when Angelo celebrated his 100th birthday surrounded by the Stanthorpe community. By then renowned mural artist Guido Van Helton had completed the mural that shows him looking “out reflectively to the main street of Stanthorpe with a hope in his eyes – and an optimism for the future of the region and what the next 100 years will bring”. (Transcript from mural plaque)
The portrait is among many pieces of Stanthorpe public art that both adorn and captivate.
Another large mural (below) rolls across the wall of the Country Club Hotel. Completed by Drapyl, it sits as a vibrant and permanent reminder of the excitement and celebration that the biennial Apple and Grape Festival engenders.
Yet another has beautified Fromes Lane (below), creating a sanctuary in the heart of town.
And another, by Drapyl and Treas, adorns the Stanthorpe Civic Centre.
To street art enthusiasts, names like Drapyl, Treas and Guido Van Helton confirm the pedigree of this art. These artists are among the royalty of muralists.
There are also fabulous murals by local artists Julie Brown, Laurie Astill and Dean Ford, such as ones in the Piazza that depict quaint Italian street scenes (below left) and another at the Post Office (below right) that pays tribute to the backpackers that arrive each year for harvest work.
Add to this recipe for success some amazing sculptures, such as the Rogers Street car park sculpture by Gabriele Trabucco and Richard Pfeiffer.
And look down on the main street to see a little statue by Chris Humphreys of a cheeky monkey with a plaque that tells you all about the saying “Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey”.
Now you may know that this saying has nothing to do with frigid primates. Monkeys, in this context, were the brass triangles on which naval cannon balls were once stacked in a pyramid. When it became cold, the brass shrunk and the balls rolled off.
Well, Stanthorpe is cold in winter by Queensland standards and so the statue is apt. There’s also a second monkey in this town and he’s found a brilliant way to stay warm – he guzzles beer! Granite Belt Brewery beer to be exact.
You can find this monkey in a mural by Brightsiders that adorns the brewery wall. You’ll have to look hard though, as he’s hiding around the corner. Geoff Davenport, owner of the brewery, explained in the Stanthorpe Border Post that it is a Willy Wonka magical beer theme. Davenport is one of the ever-increasing number of tourism-focussed businesses that are using art to add extra zest to their offerings.
Get the low-down on Stanthorpe's street art from the Stanthorpe Regional Gallery.