Poul­try Peo­ple

Sculp­tor Small Carter has loved chick­ens since child­hood. She tells Jeremy Hob­son about her poul­try pas­sion and her (mainly) wooden art­works

Your Chickens - - Contents -

Sculp­tor Small Carter

How did you be­come in­ter­ested in the idea of chicken keep­ing and what birds do you have now? It was my par­ents who sparked my love of chicken keep­ing. They kept chick­ens when I was grow­ing up. We had a cock­erel called Siegfried and a se­lec­tion of hens. They were very free range and there was al­ways a suc­ces­sion of chicks on the go.

When my hus­band, Deej, and I moved into this house 15 years ago we ac­quired two young chicks and called them Jill and Richard af­ter our friends who gave them to us. Jill was won­der­ful and lived for many years and raised lots of chicks. Richard was slightly less pleas­ant and took his role of pro­tect­ing his ladies very se­ri­ously. (Even­tu­ally we do­nated him to some friends who were look­ing for a cock­erel to guard their hens).

Af­ter them we kept Dork­ings, Marans and Light Sus­sex, a few ban­tams and some War­rens. We tried rear­ing some ta­ble birds once which, al­though it worked quite well, I think is best left to the ex­perts. When it came to it, nei­ther of us wanted to do the deed.

Our lat­est ladies are res­cue hens who came from the Bri­tish Hen Wel­fare Trust. They ar­rived very shy and a bit unloved, but have now blos­somed into five full feath­ered busy­bod­ies.

What is it about chick­ens that you love so much? They are so in­cred­i­bly cheer­ful. Even when they are squab­bling over a de­li­cious treat they still seem to be hav­ing a won­der­ful time. They are con­stantly in­ter­ested in what­ever I’m do­ing. Even though they are free range dur­ing the day, they tend to hang around my work­shop most of the time, pok­ing their beaks around the cor­ner try­ing to see what I’m up to. They are busy and cu­ri­ous and seem to gen­uinely love peo­ple. I think we could all do with a bit of chicken per­spec­tive.

Your sculp­tures are quite unique. How would you de­scribe them? They are ba­si­cally wooden sculp­tures cre­ated from re­claimed and found ma­te­ri­als. Al­though I did art at col­lege for A level, my wood­work is self-taught (with a lot of help from Deej who also works with wood). It was find­ing a beau­ti­ful piece of wood which first gave me the idea of adding tiny sculp­tures. They have a look of drift­wood, but are mostly old oak branches. I love to dis­cover a re­ally beau­ti­ful one. My only re­quire­ment is that each piece has to be lovely enough to have on the wall on its own. They take on their own di­rec­tion. I love to see how they de­velop; the fluid form of the branches lend them­selves to a seas­cape, but moun­tains and wood­lands are also a theme. They vary in length: some are only about 50cm, but oth­ers go up to over 1m.

Have you ever cre­ated a sculp­ture that in­cludes one of more of your chick­ens as mod­els? I haven’t ever used a chicken as a model, but it’s a good idea. Tex­ture may be a prob­lem, but I did some pen­guins the other day made from con­crete and wire-wool which were quite ef­fec­tive. Per­haps I could do a mother hen and her chicks walk­ing along a branch.

To re­turn to chicken keep­ing, what do you know now that you wish you had known at the out­set? That a broody hen is de­ter­mined; if she re­ally wants to es­cape she will, no mat­ter how clever you think you have been in try­ing to keep her in.

Small’s work can be seen on her web­site: www.small­de­signs.co.uk; email: small­de­[email protected]­mail.com.

Small uses mainly old oak branches in her sculpt­ing IN­SET: Over the years, Small has kept Dork­ings, Marans and Light Sus­sex, a few ban­tams and some War­rens

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