Steve Messam

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Date: October 2010

Location: Stainmore, Cumbria. UK

Dimensions: 6.4m x 4.2m x 5.2m

Materials: swaledale fleece, bird netting

Further information: Blog post


'Sentinel' was a landscape installation in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to celebrate Wool Week.

For two weeks, a historic field barn at the edge of the GeoPark was transformed with the fleece of 200 local Swaledale sheep. The small barn clings to the side of the steeply sloping field beside one of the last native woodlands in the North Pennines. The barn was originally a 'Hogg House' built as shelter for yearling sheep in the harsh northern winters. At the end of the 19th Century the Swaledale sheep was bred to withstand the extreme weather of these exposed hills and the Hogg Houses fell out of use. 

I wanted to somehow link the barn with the sheep breed; it clings to the hill like the sheep, but I also like the relationship between the barn and the breed as points in the history of agriculture and this landscape. It seemed fitting to try and do something as part of National Wool Week.

Sheep farming has been a staple of the uplands of the North Pennines and has shaped much of the landscape we see today. 'Sentinel' stands as a symbol for the seamless bond between the landscape and sheep.