blog – work in progress by Kate Foster, environmental artist
“Sheep-walks” is a name for upland areas dedicated to extensive sheep farming. This theme has ideas of both site and flow. Sheep walks are areas people use for sheep. To an extent, sheep can choose where to be within their heft – there are places which sheep make for themselves. But they are also made to move, being gathered by people. Formelry, flocks were walked to market in England along drove roads, now of course they are moved in vehicles. Sheep-walks often consist of a rich variety of plants and wildlife. There is constant flux and change, as sheep and other species accommodate to each other – in all weathers. I spend time drawing, looking, walking sheep-walks. These are places shaped by human and animal appetite over the centuries, now cast in the language of land management as sites of ‘biodiversity’ and ‘carbon storage’. My sense as I walk is an occasional glimpse of earthly paradise: above all, trying to see sheepscapes takes one inwards to questions of humanity, landscapes of massed volumes and contrast, shifting tones of extreme darkness and light.