The Rarest of Sheep Breeds here in the U.K. is the Boreray. With numbers between only 300 - 500 left on the registry of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. We are fortunate to have a small breeding herd of Borerarys here at Spring Grove and they are a small to medium size sheep, full of character and stamina. You can read more about their origins on our Breed information section by clicking on Sheep and then selecting Boreray.
Lucy Lean is one of the most amazingly talented Contemporary Artists that lives locally to us here in Somerset. By the chain of whispers and local knowledge that Somerset is famous for we were kindly introduced to each other by a mutual friend. As part of the Somerset Arts Week Lucy designed and created this wonderful installation as you see above in the pictures. The brief I was set was to create a Handspun yarn/string to suspend her creation from. It needed to be rough and raw as Nature intended. After a short time rummageing through my Fleece Collection we settled for the rough Hair like fibre of the Boreray.
The Fleece in the Raw is heavily greased with Lanolin and lots of natural debris from burs to other small seed pods and even the odd beetle. These were all left embedded into the fleece and it was literally spun up by myself in the raw or "in the grease" as the old terminology is phrased. Leaving my hands beautifully soft with all the lanolin it contained, I imagined how the locals on the island of St Kilda from where these sheep were originally bred from might have spun it the very same. The process of spinning itself is incredibly organic and has not changed for hundred of years. There is a real satisfying experience to be had by just pulling the fleece from the sacks, quite literally as it has come of the sheep itself and creating this gloriously organic item that smells divinely of the sheep from hence it came. Normally such a hairy fleece would be destined for a hard working wool requirement such as carpeting and tough outer wear. To see it looking so delicate and artistically glamorous in Lucy's Installation brought a lump to my throat.
You can learn more about Lucy Lean and her stunning work, how she creates it and her design behind it all here on her website here at http://www.lucyleanart.com and if you fancy seeing her work in action the Somerset Arts Week runs till Sunday and you can find out more at the website here http://www.somersetartworks.org.uk