Wednesday, 12 October 2011

feeling slightly sheepish

The surface landscape of the North Pennines, just like anywhere else in Britain, is an occlusion of geology, climate and human exploitation. Farmers and shepherds have brought and bred sheep and cattle that suit the prevailing conditions. They've piled stones into walls, and burnt lime for sweetening the pastures and cementing the stones into shelters. They've planted and felled trees for timber and firewood. They've built tracks and drove roads across and through the hills and dales of this upland area.

The sheep that are such a strong feature of the North Pennines landscape produce wool, of course. Last week, we celebrated and promoted North Pennines wool at an event that attracted around 400 visitors to Lanehead, high in the North Pennines and close to the source of the River Wear. It brought together farmers, small-holders, fleece-processors, spinners, weavers, dyers, craftworkers and wearers of wool. There was a friendly and lively atmosphere to the event, and kindled new relationships and ideas amongst those who attended. Look at this blog:
The week before the wool event, I went with a group down Tyne Bottom Mine, a long-disused leadmine, and another example of North Pennines geology and human exploitation coming together. I was able to dig out some pigment for making into paint, including the yellow ochre in the sheep pictures.
The fusion of rocks, minerals and water underground has created a slowly-evolving visual feast.
On the surface, sheep, pasture, wind, rain and sunlight energise the fellsides.

Meanwhile, the remains of my shelter continue to provide visual stimulus; for creating more artwork and for setting-off a train of thought about the universal process of development and decay.


  1. Your sheep are wonderful - I hope there are many more to come!

  2. Thanks for the compliment, Ellie. Are you going to comment on the event on the ?