The Wealth of The Nation

Working as Langdyke Countryside Trust's Artists in Residence, Sarah Lambert and I started dyeing wool in 2023 - as a way to tell of the land, its social history and ecology. Sarah chose to work with fleece and created beautiful felt based on her photography, while I used thread.

Sheep are used for conservation grazing on several of Langdyke's nature reserves. They help restrain the more vigorous grasses and so encourage more wildflowers to grow. And sheep have been grazed on many of these locations in past times, right back to the Neolithic farmers who worked the land at what's now Langdyke's Etton-Maxey Nature Reserve. So there are very old links between sheep and the Langdyke reserves!

We used very slow processes was a way to reduce environmental impact - coaxing the colours from the plants using time in preference to heat. Some colours took weeks for the colour to develop!

Sheep were so important here that in Medieval times it was said that the wealth of the nation was carried by the sheep - meaning that wool was hugely significant to the economy. And so, from the I created new sculpture in the form of a necklace using found 'treasures' from the nature reserves and wild-dyed wool. It speaks of where I perceive the wealth of the land to be - in the biodiversity and natural processes that support life, and the Langdyke's work to encourage biodiversity.

The necklace is studded with natural objects representing different forms of life found on Langdyke's nature reserves - leaves, fungi, shells, feathers and a tiny moth* found in one of the bird hides). The tangle of threads represents the interwoven, interdependent, interconnected ecology,

With thanks to Studio One, Peterborough, for photographic services.
*the moth had died some time before