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Longleat Wines features installation from Shepparton artist John Head

By Charmayne Allison

Shepparton artist John Head has installed a striking bamboo art piece along the Goulburn River at Longleat Wines.

The installation, The Kaiela Spirit, represents the different communities along the Kaiela River (the Yorta Yorta name for the Goulburn) working together to see the region thrive.

At a glance, the cluster of 50 painted bamboo poles adds a vibrant splash of colour to the backdrop of the bush.

But stand at just the right angle, and a picture emerges.

The face of an indigenous man, looking up towards the sky.

“The different colours represent the different communities who have lived along the Goulburn River,” Mr Head said.

“But when you stand at the right spot, you see the image of the Aboriginal man come together, which we have named the ‘Kaiela spirit'.

“The Goulburn River really is the lifeblood of this region. But we all need to work together to see it continue to flourish.”

Erected in February, the art piece was initially going to feature in this year's Shepparton Festival before COVID-19 hit.

This is the fifth bamboo installation Mr Head has constructed, with his four previous sculptures built at Tallis winery in Dookie.

But he chose to assemble this year's piece at Longleat Wines, featuring the tranquil backdrop of the Goulburn River.

The construction was anything but simple.

“I had a number of fellows help me put it together in 40-degree heat,” Mr Head said.

“After lining all the poles up and staking them, I stood on a ladder about 30m away with the image of the man's face in my hand.

“I then told them where to paint. It was very tricky for them because they had no idea what they were painting. But I'm so pleased with how it came up.”

All up, the project took 40 hours to complete, over three weeks.

And more than four months down the track, Longleat Wines owner Sandra Vazzoler said it was still standing strong.

“It's been great to collaborate with John on this piece,” she said.

“We love that The Kaiela Spirit tells the story of the Goulburn River, which feeds our vineyard and connects the whole region together.

“Anything to do with the river is so important to us.”

If you are interested in taking a look at the installation, call Longleat Wines on 5826 2294.

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