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Water tank becomes art icon with Durebild STE and Weathershield

Water tank becomes art icon with Durebild STE and Weathershield

Wherever you are in the Pilbara city of Karratha, the two huge tanks on Water Tank Hill are never far from view. They are an iconic part of the landscape – but until July 2021 they were more of an eyesore than an attraction. That has all changed thanks to a spectacular mural created by artist Chris Nixon in partnership with the City of Karratha.

Celebrating the vital role of water in this semi-arid landscape, the design wraps around the vast steel tank and creates a vibrant statement above the city. A two-product coating system delivered solid coverage, long-term resistance from fading and corrosion, and a strategic choice of colours.

Chris was given the freedom to specify his preferred coatings. He recommended a priming coat of Durebild STE, applied by Duratec Australia. Then Chris and his team applied his design in multiple Weathershield colours.

“I work exclusively with the Dulux range. I’ve found that the colour range is the best. The pigments, the brightness and the way colour stands up over time. Dulux is the best for translating what I do onto large-scale assets,” Chris explains.

“For this artwork in particular, the colour needed to make an impact from a distance. It needed to be vibrant, like a beacon on the hill.”

A barrier between steel and corrosion

As it sits in a coastal setting, Karratha is a highly corrosive environment. Durebild STE has been designed specifically to protect steel from these conditions.

“The tank is in one of the harshest environments you could get for a mural. We chose Durebild STE to protect the asset. It also provides an excellent base for me to work on. I’ve used it on walls before and now on a steel tank," Chris says.

This surface tolerant epoxy can be applied over a wide range of aged coatings. This was a huge benefit for this project, as the tank's previous coating systems had not been recorded.

The right advice ensures money well spent

The mural was initially intended to be painted on the site's decommissioned water tank. However, a site visit by Dulux Protective Coatings resulted in a change of plan. North West Territory Manager Kevin Johnston says the tank's surface was badly chalking and repair was not feasible.

"We suggested applying the artwork to the other tank, which is still in use and in better condition. Compared to removing and replacing the old tank, this allowed the council to save a significant amount of money while still delivering a fantastic result," Kevin says.

Colour range provides creative freedom

Based in Perth, Chris works closely with Dulux Protective Coatings Business Development Executive Michael Filmer on most specifications.

He particularly values the coverage and choice Weathershield provides. During the digital design process, Chris uses the Dulux Colour Atlas online.

“I can design whatever I want and I know the colour will be there in the range," he says.

While he had estimated ten days for the water tank decorative work, it was completed in seven. “It was one of the smoothest projects I have worked on, especially at that scale. It makes the process so much easier if you can complete a section and know that it’s done and the coverage is solid.”

Once Chris had selected his colours, he sourced the Weathershield coatings in Karratha. “I worked with local suppliers, to support our resident teams,” he explains.

With public amenities and a lookout installed nearby, Water Tank Hill has been transformed into a popular destination. The location marks the entry to the Yaburara Heritage Trail.

If you need a highly durable solution for public art, get in touch with our coatings experts for a tailored specification.


City of Karratha Water Tank Mural Artwork by Chris Nixon

Image: Pilbara Site Pics

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