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Clare Charnley: Spring Lamb Project

Country Park
8 May–20 Jun 2015

In Spring 2015, visiting artist Clare Charnley spent 5 days at the Park encouraging lambs to play in the Spring Lamb Project. Charnley created temporary play structures for lambs, altering and rebuilding them in response to the their reactions.

Lambs often climb onto their mothers’ backs or other high objects and can regularly be seen charging around in small groups, springing into the air, jostling each other or jumping off small mounds, one after the other. The world to them is understood in terms of social interaction and through pitting the body against material items – in short, through play. Charnley drew an analogy between this process and artistic production.

Although Charnley acknowledged the pleasure derived from watching young animals play, the project’s intention was not to anthropomorphise lambs; in fact Spring Lamb was a pun intended to remind visitors of their role as food. 

YSP’s Country Park, the estate’s former 18th century deer park, now hosts works by world renowned artists including Henry Moore and James Turrell. The parkland has also previously offered artists the perfect location for interventions with sheep, including Andy Goldsworthy’s Shadow Stone Fold, 2007, in which the artist consulted with a tenant farmer at YSP to design a working sheep fold to replace the pre-existing wooden structure.

Charnley is a visual and live artist based in Leeds. Born in Leeds, she studied Fine Art at Leeds Beckett University and Sculpture at Chelsea College of Art. She is Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Leeds Beckett University.