Take a walk in our long paddock! The Sheep Art Trail spans 900 metres from the Big Windmill connecting the Silo Art to the Wetlands and Fauna Park. It features 46 sheep, murals and games. There is a map at either end of town and and a brochure with map at various places around Kaniva. Most of the trail is accessible by pram or wheelchair, except for the Silo Art area where no footpath exists.
Started in 2010, Sheep Art is a fun community arts project that celebrates Kaniva's sheep heritage. The Sheep Art Trail features murals, tours and a wool stencil wall, recording over 100 property wool stencils. Grazing sheep are still very much part of a sustainable agricultural future for this area to improve both soil health and plant biodiversity.
Each sheep has its own name and links to a place or community group through a QR code. A tiny windmill has been hidden on each sheep. The trail includes a variety of digital interactive walking and tours that can be played on phones, suitable for all ages and interest groups. Simply download the Actionbound App, it's advert free. Most walking tours start at the Visitor Information Centre and include:
If you have the Pokémon go app, then there are lots of Pokémon to be captured on the trail too! All of the sheep have been painted by local Kaniva artists and community groups, aged between 8 and 80. Think of the sheep as your tour guides, eager to tell you about Kaniva's past and present through their ewe-nique designs and QR codes. The Sheep Art Trail has been entirely created and funded by the community. As well as the main trail, other sheep can also be found dotted around the town. Altogether there are presently 57 sheep, 4 lambs and 2 sheep dogs.
Did you know? The Visitor Information Centre was previously the VPC building. In 1910 the Victorian Producer’s Co‐operative Company Ltd was formed by wool growers to escape what was seen as the ‘tyrannical conditions imposed on them by middlemen in the sale of their produce and in the purchase of their requirements’. VPC had wool stores in Melbourne, Geelong and Portland and approximately 50 branches spread through rural Victoria, the Riverina District of New South Wales and the South East of South Australia.
Background story: In 2010, local artist Sharon Merrett had an idea that her hometown of Kaniva could embark on a community led public arts project to celebrate the town's sheep heritage with a flock of painted sheep.The idea grew with a stencil day held in November 2010 where over 100 property stencils were bought in to record Kaniva'ssheep history. Oral histories were also recorded and an extra piece of wall was painted to fit more stencils bought in later on. A small 'Sheep Art' committee was formed and applied for funding to various bodies for community groups to purchase and paint a flock of fibre glass sheep. Although these applications were unsuccessful, local businesses and community groups were willing to get behind the idea and donated money to enable the project to proceed. A special mould was made to create a smooth sheep that could be painted as a canvas by Uracast The appeal was put out for community groups to participate to paint the proposed 30 sheep. The response was overwhelming, overall 37 applications were received, but the group at this stage had only raised enough money for 20 sheep. Several workshops were held where local groups shared their stories artistically using the sheep as canvases. This was also the first community arts project for the town and for some people, it was the first time they had painted anything. The project has been run solely by volunteers and clearly demonstrates the volunteering that forms the backbone of small towns like Kaniva. Furthermore the sheep themselves help showcase the large amount of volunteer community groups needed to create a vibrant small town.
In 2019, Kaniva & District Progress Association decided to expand the flock to create the current 'Sheep Art Trail', linking the Silo Art and theWetlands and Fauna Park with the main street. Overall 28 applications were received for the 18 new sheep, with some existing sheep being given a makeover too. After just two weeks of painting workshops, Kaniva’s new sheep were painted, mustered and yarded by over fifty volunteers!
In 2022, a further eleven sheep and the wool stencil wall, underwent a restoration and repair process thanks to a small grant from Culture, Heritage and Arts Regional Tourism.
If you would like to support Sheep Art and its ongoing sustainability and development, you can make a donation via Kaniva & District Progress Association. All donations over $100 will go onto our Sponsor Sheep, along with this Sheep Art webpage!
NB: Over time existing sheep need to be re-painted with new designs on a priority needs basis. They are not designed to be sat on as we have an ongoing issue with breakages and in most cases they are not able to be repaired. So please help to look after our flock! All sheep remain the property of the Sheep Art project and all monies donated help with maintaining and expanding the flock.
FAQ Q: What is the application process for new sheep? A: We presently have around 5 organisations wanting sheep. You must be a Kaniva organisation. Sheep must be painted by residents of Kaniva, Designs must be submitted and approved. Logos to be kept to 10cm. Sheep must be part of the trail at council approved designated spaces. Sheep must be painted as part of our community workshops and can not be taken off site.
Q: Can I temporarily decorate the sheep with accessories eg flags and hats? A: We are open to all offers of help and creative ideas with appropriate and seasonal streamlined themes. Eg Christmas and Easter. If you have an idea, please get in contact with us and seek permission before adding accessories. NB: Special promotions run for 1 - 7 days except for Christmas.