Animal sculptures are a wonderful means of temporarily populating heritage sites to engage children and adults alike. In previous summers, in the grounds of the National Trust property of Erddig Hall, a flock of wooden sheep populated the lawn and entertained my kids immensely. As regular visitors, I wondered what happened to those lovely sheep?
Indeed, more broadly, what happens to such carvings when they are replaced by other seasonal sculptures and activities to engage visitors, especially families? Are they sold on? Are they put into storage awaiting reuse at a later date?
Well, on a recent visit to Erddig, I spied the lost flock in a quiet corner of Erddig beside Wat’s Dyke – the early medieval linear earthwork.
They were placed huddled together, and looking more than a little uncertain of themselves. Will they be back on display in a more public location next year? Will they be taken away? Whatever their fate, there is something uncanny and somehow precarious about them in this tight-knit group. In short, they look worried. They look in fear of prowling wolves. Indeed, where they are located, they are within earshot of the Wolf’s Den play area, populated as it is with two large wolf sculptures!
I’m worried about these sheep… With so much temporary art created for heritage sites, I do wonder whether their history of creation, display, removal, storage, re-display and eventual disposal is being recorded by NT, EH, Cadw and Historic Scotland properties? They’ve been made to be part of the heritage site, so surely they have a right to some respect and protection too!