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Three years ago, local artist Sharon Merrett had an idea that her hometown of Kaniva could embark on a community arts project to celebrate the town's sheep history 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's sheep 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 they 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 based on the Texcel breed by The Sheep Bloke
The appeal was put out for community groups to partcipate to paint the proposed 30 sheep. The response was overwhelming, overall 37 applications were recieved.
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 soley 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.
Kaniva has traditionally been a very strong mixed farming region, but since the decline of the wool industry in the 1980s, many farmers turned to growing agricultural crops. However there are several famillies in the district who are committed to improving sheep genetics, both for wool and meat production. With the growth in the lamb market and strengthened wool prices, farmers are now seeing the rewards for their commitment and belief in the industry.
There are several farming famillies that see a bright future in the sheep industry including Hannaton, Oakdale White Suffolk & Prime Samm Stud, Omad, Blue Hills, Duenclin, and Hayelle. Of particular interest is local Kanivaite Damien Hawker, who started his sheep stud Omad whilst still at school and has also gone on to become a professional shearer. Dinyarrak Dairy's Robin Smith is also a fascinating story of diversification - milking sheep to make speciality soaps!
Sharon Merrett 5393 1334 Sheep Art co-ordinator
Gordon Williams 5392 2220 Sheep history
Peter Hicks 5392 2366 Hannaton Merinos
Proudly sponsored by:
Kaniva District Progress and Action Association, Coopers Animal Health, Kaniva Midway Motel, Uracast,
Kaniva Foodworks, Purple Starfish, Kaniva A&P Society, Wimmera Regional Library Corporation, West Wimmera Shire, Kaniva Rotary Club, Kaniva Kindergarten, Mr Geoff Handbury
Hannaton Merinos, Landmark, Elders, LINK,Commonwealth Bank, Kaniva Country Chemist, Murray Nankivell, Wallis Engineering, Browns IGA, Robot Motors, Kaniva Bus Service.