Public Art : Big Sheep
Sculptor/Artist: © Steven Clothier (AKA 'Iron Man' of
Artist's Website: www.corrugatedcreations.co.nz
Description: A shed made from corrugated iron and
shaped like a sheep's head
Date Unveiled: 1998
Location: The Big Sheep is actually a wool shed that
sells local products. You can find it on the State Highway 1, as you drive through Tirau, right next to the
Big Dog visitors centre and the Big
Shepherd outside the church.
The Background To Tirau's Big Iron Things: Like many
small rural towns in New Zealand during the 1980s, Tirau found itself struggling to survive and was rapidly falling
into "ghost town" status. The B.N.Z Bank branch had skedaddled, so too the local butcher, baker, chemist and the
historic Rose Bros general store. An armed hold up in 1988 was the straw that broke the camel's back, leaving many
of the remaining local businesses to count their losses and close their doors.
The town desperately needed to reinvent itself or it would simply vanish off the map. The one thing
going for it was the town sat on the State Highway with an unlimited amount of traffic. The problem was, how to
make them stop in Tirau? Enter Entrepreneur Henry Clothier, who took an ginormous risk and purchased the now empty
Rose Brother's General store building and turn it into an antique store. Against insurmountable odds the store
began to attract motorists and soon began turning a profit.
Then Henry Clothier and John and Nancy Drake came up with the idea of building a information Centre
in the shape of a dog, next to the Drakes iron building that had long become known as the "Sheep". Yes, a few
eyebrows were raised, however, they were determined to have their vision built.
Eventually the local community warmed to the idea and the project was approved in 1998. With the
help of volunteers and local tradesmen work commenced. The job of creating the dog's head was left to local
handyman Steven Clothier who was originally relunctant to take on the project but as no one else willing to take on
the challenge, he eventually agreed.
The project became an enormous success, so much so that the town is now a booming tourist stop and
Steven was able to start his own successful corrugated iron sculpture business.