Big Dog

Big Dog , Corrugated iron sculpture, Tirau, public art

Public Art : Big Dog

Also Known As : The Big Dog shed

Sculptor/Artist: © Steven Clothier (AKA 'Iron Man' of Tirau)

Artist's Website:

Description: A shed made from corrugated iron and shaped like a dog's head

Date Unveiled: 1998

Location: Believe it or not the corrugated dog is actually Tirau's Visitors Centre on State Highway 1, North Island, New Zealand. You can't miss it. It's next to the Big Sheep and the Big Shepherd.

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.

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