An eighteenth century
canal-side cottage was clad with the fleece from 300 local
sheep, recreating the original timber-frame pattern.
Commissioned by Oriel Davies in Newtown, Powys as part of
their ‘Beyond Pattern’ exhibition. The piece brings
together the distinctive black and white timber frame
pattern with the black and white of the two sheep breeds
that made the town of Newtown.
Newtown was built on the wool industry and is still home
to the Wool Board’s Welsh depot - every fleece in Wales
goes through Newtown. Sheep were bred exclusively for the
wool market in the surrounding hills - their temperament
and behaviour suited for the steel hills and harsh
winters, their fleeces soft and uniform in colour. Due to
slumps in the wool market Kerry Hill sheep were until
recently on the rare breeds list. However, their
distinctive black and white markings, complete with ‘panda
eyes’ have made them popular again and are considered a
rare success of the smallholder movement. In effect their
pattern having saved the breed.
The timber frame architecture of East Montgomeryshire is
the result of vernacular architecture - the area being a
source of good straight oak trees. Over the centuries the
patterns became a status symbol and more intricate
patterns evolved. The patterns continued after the
railways arrived along with bricks and tiles - the houses
then painted in ever increasing intricacy. The vast
country home of the Davies sisters who bequeathed the
gallery to Newtown is the epitome of timber-framed
pattern, although made from cast concrete sections.
Clad brought these two aspects of the town together in a
simple and visual symbol of the patterns dictated by
landscape. For the final piece I worked closely with Kerry
Hill breeders locally as well as historians and
The fleece from the installation has subsequently been
scoured, spun and woven into blankets with the same
pattern by the Welsh National Wool Museum as part of a
commitment I have to recycling temporary pieces.