My exhibition of new work, Flock, ended this week. I’m very grateful for all the support and encouragement I’ve received and for the effort that people made to attend. I’ve had many questions about why I chose them as the subject for a show. They seemed a natural for me.
My affection for them is deeply embedded. I was introduced to sheep through nursery rhymes, songs and bedtime stories. They have been associated with people for more than 10,000 years, since they were first domesticated and have been depicted throughout history in paintings, drawings and sculpture. The most memorable for me are Henry Moore’s charming line drawings of the sheep outside his studio at Much Hadham, in East Hertforshire.
I’m not sure if their similarity to clouds inspired me to consider painting them instead of my usual landscapes. It’s likely, because in my search for places that are shaped by weather, I have often found them patiently munching while enduring extreme climatic conditions.
If they aren’t sheltering from snow, rain, fog and wind, they are huddled into shady spots to escape the burning sun or searching parched riverbeds for water.
I made my first painting of sheep more than 20 years ago and have returned to the subject many times.
This collection was completed between November 2012 and March 2014 in my Hamilton studio. I painted the first few to accustom myself to a new work space after moving to the city in 2012. Their texture and forms are so well suited to interpretation in oil pastel that I just carried on until I was surrounded by my own gentle flock.