Scroll Top
Regional Arts Development Central West NSW
silos project & shearers ballet
An ambitious regional arts initiative, The SILOS Project, a project that captivated the imaginations of the Cowra- Canowindra communities in the NSW Central West.

The Silos project was conceived by Dylan Gower and Phoebe Cowdery of The Corridor Project together with director Patrick Nolan in partnership with Arts OutWest.

Silos are significant structures in regional communities, their use – or lack of – being emblematic of the health of the surrounding country. – Patrick Nolan


The project team are pleased with the many legacies of this community-based project, despite being unsuccessful in obtaining competitive federal grants or philanthropic sponsorship that would have brought to fruition the third and final stage of the multi-year project.

Launched in 2013, SILOS brought together a collection of Australia’s leading artists to work with communities in the NSW Central West to present a powerful, life affirming story about our relationship with the land. Inspired by the dynamic structure of an annual agricultural show, SILOS aimed to celebrate the extraordinary riches of the region. The vision for the final public performance stage included an outdoor performance spectacle making use of local grain silos.

Project aims

These key areas of change acted as the project’s main drivers:

  • Increased opportunities for locals working in the creative industries in the NSW central west region
  • Development of cultural tourism infrastructure, through both the Silos site and the event via collaboration with local organisations
  • Activation of the silos site to create a space for future community events
  • To increase audience and community collaboration and participation within the arts sector.
  • The presentation of the major performance of the SILOS project is integral to achieving these long-term, sustainable outcomes for the community.
Layers of the project

Launched in 2013, phase 1 included consultations and planning workshops with the community; Internationally acclaimed video and installation artist Craig Walsh mentored local writers and photographers in the art of filming and recording oral histories; Patrick Nolan, Alison Plevey, Joey Ruigrok, Dylan Gower, Phoebe Cowdery, and Scott Saunders facilitated community workshops in music, dance and design. (2013-14) 

Phase 2

Phase 2, 2015,  continued development of community meetings, script, physical theatre, design, music, and drama workshops, held in Cowra and Canowindra. During November 2015 Director Patrick Nolan and physical theatre artists Joshua Thomson and LeeAnne Linton facilitated two workshops in dance and physical theatre.

The team

Patrick Nolan artistic director
Donna Abela writer
Scott Saunders musical director
Craig Walsh visual design
Joey Ruigrok set design
Dylan Gower site design
Annemaree Dalziel costume design
Alison Plevey choreography
Mary-Anne Wright music co-ordinator
Phoebe Cowdery production co-ordinator

Community stakeholders include: local farmers, schools, youth, businesses, councils, artists, community groups who all identify the exceptional value of the project for the region.

Stages one and two of the SILOS Project involved community and schools workshops in dance, performance, storytelling and design.  Stages one and two of the project were funded by Arts NSW and the Australia Council for the Arts.

Over 800 students, musicians, dancers, designers, writers, photographers from early to late age have been affected and influenced by a diverse range of industry leaders in developing local stories and visualising exciting concepts.

“We would like to thank everyone for the immense collaborative creative input to date. Support from Cowra Council, local businesses, community members and schools who have all invested time and energy into the pre-production stage,” the SILOS team said.

“The good news is the community has really enjoyed and benefited from the creative process, complexities, community building and working with key industry leaders in bringing an understanding of a large scale production, and professional development to pre-production stage. Businesses have benefited from the artists holding workshops and plenary sessions in both Cowra and Canowindra over extended periods,” the SILOS team said.

The Shearers Ballet

As a specific outcome The Shearers Ballet was developed in 2016, a performance work developed with dancers alongside Norm Palazzi and other local shearers, funded by the Australia Council for the Arts.

The Shearers Ballet took shape with a three day dance development with young dancers and retired shearers.

Following a successful research period collecting many colourful stories from retired and working shearers from Grenfell, Cowra and Canowindra areas a three day dance development phase began the process of bringing the stories and physicality of life in shearing sheds to the stage.

Bathurst and Canberra based Choreographer, Alison Plevey (Clique, Talk2Me, Lingua Franca,  Australian Dance Party) and composer Scott Saunders worked with young dancers from the region and some of the retired shearers.

The three day intensive workshops explored creative and choreographic processes to manipulate shearing actions, rituals and routines, integrating stories and phrases of the shed to bring these wonderful stories to life. Local retired shearers Norm Palazzi and Larry Walsh assisted and will themselves feature in the performance.

Local histories

In 2015, SILOS artist Craig Walsh was invited by the CORRIDOR project and Age of Fishes Museum Canowindra, during Science Week to create an animated projection, recreating the 360 million year Grossi fish into the  Belubula River. The inspiration for the installation came from the discovery of fossils around Canowindra of the grossi, a lobe-finned fish with a fully developed nasal system. An estimated audience of 250 people watched the grossi recreated through a combination of art, science and technology from Canowindra’s Swinging Bridge.

This will become part of the legacy developed during the project for use by local Historical Societies. The Age of Fishes Museum with collaboration from the CORRIDOR project, SILOS project, Cowra-Cabonne Science Hub and Visual Artist Craig Walsh, have developed a realistic animation of the Grossi Fish, now on display at the AOF.

Project inquires: Phoebe Cowdery, Local Project Co-ordinator, The Corridor Project  0413 910 697

An ambitious regional arts initiative.

Location: Cowra, Canowindra, Grenfell

When: 2013-2017

Funded by: Arts NSW and the Australia Council for the Arts (stages 1 and 2), Australia Council for the Arts (Shearers Ballet)

Partnering with: The CORRIDOR Project, Patrick Nolan. Early partnership with Legs on the Wall

Coordinator: Phoebe Cowdery with support from Arts OutWest

Artists: Craig Walsh, Alison Plevey, Patrick Nolan, Donna Abela, Scott Saunders, Joey Ruigrok, Annemaree Dalziel, Scott Saunders, Mary-Anne Wright 

The SILOS Project team would like to thank the following people and organisations for their generous letters of support for grants and their broader engagement over the project duration:
Andrew Gee MP, Senator Fiona Nash, Councillor Bill West Mayor – Cowra Council, Orange City Council, Weddin Shire Council, Cabonne Council, John Holland, NSW Transport, Department of Primary Industries, Canowindra and Grenfell historical societies, Ad Loyalty, CWA Canowindra, Canowindra@Home, Ed Fagan, RAMHP, BMEC, musician Mary Anne Wright. Local support: Councillor Peter Wright, Norm Palazzi, Finns Store Canowindra, Marlow House, Eddies of Canowindra, Nerida Cuddy.

Images: Development workshops and dance workshops Kate Barclay; other images Phoebe Cowdry, Alison Plevey.