Champion Whiteface Dartmoor Ram, William
Breed Champion – Devon County Show 2007
Breed Champion – Yealmpton Show 2007
Breed Champion – Devon County Show 2008
Best Whiteface Dartmoor Ram [all flocks] 2008
Breed Champion – Yealmpton Show 2009
Breed Champion – Okehampton Show 2009
Having been impressed by William at the Devon County Show, I asked his owners, Phil and Alison Abel, for permission to sculpt him, which they were happy to give. William is a superb example of the breed, having won twelve championship firsts to date, including “Best Whiteface Dartmoor Ram in all flocks 2008”, meaning that he was the best Whiteface Dartmoor ram in the world that year! His fleece is fabulously thick and heavy – far too warm to stay unshorn after a show, so I photographed him there and then, beside the sheep pens.Read more...
The Whiteface Dartmoor sheep is believed to be one of England’s most ancient sheep breeds, and was probably once common throughout West Somerset and Devon. However, as more land became enclosed toward the end of the 18th C, the breed retreated to Dartmoor, where it became firmly rooted. The Whiteface are a traditional hill sheep; hardy and able to thrive on coarse moorland, grazing heather during the summer and the valley hay meadows during winter and spring. They are able to survive hard winters and the majority of flocks still live on Dartmoor to this day.
I settled down to sculpt William; choosing clay, because it allowed me to carve and model the complex tight curls of that glorious fleece. I spent quite some time on this before moving on to his sturdily elegant legs. His broad, characterful head went well; though getting the curl of his horns exactly right took careful measurement and observation. Once the original clay sculpture was finished it was off to Pangolin foundry for casting! I chose a rich, creamy patina, to match the colour of William’s own fleece, and Pangolin added a heavy, dark bronze base to contrast and compliment it; a combination that works really well.