Sheep

2002

I have sheared hundreds of Corriedale sheepskins in geometrical patterns (lines, squares), working in a shearing shed at Gundowringa, a sheep farm in New South Wales, Australia. I came there to hire a professional Shearer, but not finding one available, took upon me the learning of such male traditional Australian skill.

The smell of more than a hundred years of sheep faeces and urine, plus the sweet smell of the lanolin of the wool, provided the atmosphere I walked into every day to work 12 hour a day for weeks of continuous shearing. I am an expert now, and practiced on my first live sheep towards the end of my stay at Gundowringa.

I dyed the sheepskins in earthly and warm colours, to create an orange mural, a yellow mural, and a deep red mural. They look a little bit absurd, with a material as amorphous as wool taking on stripe and square designs.

There are a lot of similarities between Australian and Latin American countries like Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, which relied on cattle and sheep as a main source of wealth and job creation in the countryside. But the wool market has been shrinking steadily for decades now (replaced by artificial fibres), leaving a void of unemployment and despair in the countryside.