Deep sheep work is the subject of an upcoming exhibition of painted works at the Doghouse, South Fremantle.

Artist/designer, Madeline Clare, smiles as she draws comparisons between sheep and human behaviour. Uplifting the sheep to a new cultural high, she celebrates how sheep provide food and warmth to humans, but not only that, how they continue to bring a wealth of inspiration to the artist as a highly authentic creature. Sensitive and intelligent, cognitively engaged and a steady nature of being content with what is, are grounds to alert human interest.

Madeline’s initial enamour of the sheep comes from walking on multiple day walk trails, observing their notable noble characters. Historically and mythologically, the white sheep, the golden and the black sheep appear alone or in flocks, seemingly bereft without a shepherdess. Yet, their ability to move between their individuality and in their collectives is remarkable and admirable qualities for the human.

Recent goings-on have brought individual/collective musings to the fore with the suggestion that collective compliance makes the task of peace and progress more amenable. Go, sheep!

The docility of the sheep, with its purity, simplicity, vulnerability and sense of justice mark out enviable territory for the human. They present as those who know their worth. And yet there are some who are wont to lay an environmental burden on sheep or ridicule them for their herd mentality. Others avow the sheep’s sacredness: the native American was determined that life’s next step came from the sheep.

Needless to say, sheep metaphor is striking, currently used for or against those who seem to blindly follow with the propensity to accept guidance without question. This metaphorical use aligns with the popularity of education as a progression of boxes to be ticked rather than the discussion of thought and idea. Peeling the metaphorical sheep back, one is reminded that the sheep is ever so worthy of conversation and hence, discussion.

Sheepify presents artwork as a celebration of the authentic sheep and their everyday ways, musings from meandering on wilderness tracks and through urban scapes. Madeline’s small abstract landscapes bring sheep into and out of different lands with a design that was created on an art residency in Iceland. In designing sheep, and surreptitiously positioning them in abstract landscapes could be likened to a society which is busily redesigning people.

The exhibition opens 19 May and runs till 30 May at the Doghouse, 253 South Terrace, South Fremantle

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