Fam­ily’s art is a lit­tle bit sheep­ish

Albany Extra - - Extra News - Ann Rawl­ings

While mobs of sheep dot the Lake Grace shire, none are as colour­ful as those penned in the Dyson Jones Wool and Tech­nol­ogy Pav­il­ion at this year’s Newde­gate Ma­chin­ery Field Days.

A unique art project by the Cu­g­ley fam­ily, who farm just south of Newde­gate, Rain­bow Sheep on a Sil­ver Fleece pre­sented a range of fa­mil­iar lo­cal re­sources in a new light.

Ear tags, fea­tur­ing the brands or prop­erty codes of pro­duc­ers from around the dis­trict, were crafted into sculp­tures of sev­eral sheep, care­fully guarded by a black-and-white sheep­dog.

Artist Melissa Cu­g­ley, who is also field days art co-or­di­na­tor, took sev­eral months to com­plete the sculp­tures, as­sisted by hus­band Matt, son Fletcher and daugh­ter Jasi.

Spurred on by past field days pres­i­dent Syd Walker, Cu­g­ley said each sculp­ture had its own char­ac­ter.

“Syd Walker had all these ear tags that he no longer needed and he said, ‘Let’s make an art­work’,” she said.

“I was just go­ing to make a cou­ple, but then thought the more there were, the more ef­fec­tive the dis­play would be — and they are a mob an­i­mal.”

Na­tional Live­stock Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion ear tags are colour-coded for the an­i­mal’s year of birth, with the colours fol­low­ing an eight-year cy­cle.

“Syd put out a no­tice say­ing we needed tags. A lot of peo­ple gave their tags to me be­cause they were not in sheep any more, or had changed the name on their tags,” Cu­g­ley said.

Dona­tions ranged in size, from bags of tags to hand­fuls, with many lo­cals ea­ger to con­trib­ute.

While Jasi keenly con­trib­uted to the project when home from her Al­bany board­ing school, Fletcher com­pleted the mob scene. “We got given a lot of black and white tags and Fletch said ‘that would make a great sheep dog’,” Cu­g­ley said.

But, as with any task, prac­tice makes per­fect, and the last sheep to be made proved to be a favourite, tak­ing on the rain­bow hues of a new field days draw­card.

Pic­ture: Ann Rawl­ings

Newde­gate Ma­chin­ery Field Days art co-or­di­na­tor Melissa Cu­g­ley and her son Fletcher with one of their sculp­tures.

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