Big Penguin statue

Big Penguin statue, Penguin, Tasmania, public art

Public Art: Big Penguin statue

Designed By : © David Lawrie

Description: An enormous 3.5m high ferrocement penguin.

Date unveiled: 1975

Location: The Big Penguin can be found on the foreshore park, Main Street, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia.

Background to the Big Penguin: The penquin statue was the brainchild of George Daniels, who was the then President of the Penguin Trader's Association. He thought it would be great for the council to build a monument in honour of the town's centenary, which was on the 25th of October, 1975.

The council were in agreeance and contracted the Devonport engineering firm of R.M. Foster to create the sculpture using a picture from Mr Daniel's daughter's children's book. All was seemingly going fine until two weeks before the centenary negotiations with the firm fell through. Enter David Lawrie, the fatcory manager for Goliath Cement Co. Hearing of the town's dilemma he created the ferrocement penguin and had it lifted into place in in 3 days. OK, it hadn't been painted yet, but he completed in three days. 

Toxic Penguin Controversy: In November 2008, fear swept through the town of Penguin when rumors that their Big Penguin could be toxic and may have made thousands of people sick.Seems a cement worker raised the alarm after he had concerns that the sculpture was leaking asbestos particles from the cement. The townsfolk were horrified that their iconic Penguin may have to be removed. The local Mayor Mike Downie responded by saying  “I would think we would be lynched from the nearest tree if council decided, that if it was a danger to the public, not to replace it.” Fortunately the Penguin was tested and given a clean bill of health.

References: Clark, David. Big Things : Australia's amazing roadside attractions, Penguin, 2004.

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