The street artist who paints wheat silos

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A steady stream of onlookers has gathered since the first brushstroke touched the towering grain silos.

The paint is barely dry on the portrait of the schoolgirl gazing down from the top of the 30m (100ft) structure and already it is the talk of the town.

The artist is Guido van Helten who has made a name for himself making large-scale public artworks in cities across Europe and the US.

He has now become the centre of attention in Coonalpyn, a farming town in South Australia with a population of about 200 and a giant sense of community.

"It's just a very small town on the highway between Adelaide and Melbourne," Mr van Helten told the BBC. "People probably drive through here all the time without even knowing its name."

A cafe looking out onto the work in progress is one of the first businesses to open in the town for years. A retired lorry driver, who spends days taking photos of the artist painting from a cherry-picker, has even become a something of a local celebrity himself.

It's a long way from the famous graffiti-covered laneways of Melbourne and, in a way, that's the point. Locals commissioned the project after a similar artwork by Mr van was Helten was credited with boosting visitors to Brim, a dwindling farming town in Victoria.

"It was probably one of my most uplifting projects because I could directly see that what I had done has made some sort of difference and I didn't expect that at all," Mr van Helten told the BBC.

The Brisbane-based artist says his work is primarily about places and spaces. He typically arrives in the cities where he works with no preconceived ideas and embeds himself in local communities as part of his process.

"There's a bit of a global movement that recognises the value of mural art as tool for regeneration," he said.

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