There’s something odd going on here. Why should two mats be laid down apparently for the sheep? Why are the sheep treating them with some suspicion?
Well, forever battling with the dilemma of how to connect art with the time-consuming business of looking after Rare Breed sheep, I reverted to an experiment I had successfully conducted 10 or more years ago when living on Les Causses in Languedoc, France. We were surrounded there by brebis, the local version of sheep from whose milk comes smelly cheese the name of which escapes me as I write. A flock went past my humble cottage most days so one day, with the shepherd’s permission, I spread a white carpet right across the metalled track so that they could not proceed without walking across it. After initial hesitation, this they did and, because their feet were dirty, an interesting and non-random pattern of hoof-prints was left on the carpet.
This is what I was trying to replicate here, seizing a morning when there had been overnight rain so that soil had stuck, I hoped, to the sheep’s hooves. The material is upside-down laminated plastic simulated floor boards, exposing the soft fluffy underneath – not ideal, particularly as it was laid on the slightly soft ground, but to be an artist is to be forever optimistic. The sheep were of course to be the unknowing artists – and it worked, up to a point. I scattered stock nuts outside the gate of the field the sheep were in, on and beyond the mats across the gateway and, forever greedy, the sheep, hesitantly at first, shuffled out. The result looked like this:
These are simply unedited, field images. I’m sure they’ll look more like real Art once I have treated them accordingly, and we will be able to acclaim the sheep as True Artists.