Polly Foster looks round Bristol’s recent Shaun the Sheep exhibition

At first glance the Great Sheep Round Up seems like any ordinary agricultural show: a huge white gazebo hosting displays of the finest breeds surrounded by excited families. But this is no ordinary county fair. In fact, all 120 of the livestock are colourful Shaun the Sheep sculptures, designed for the Shaun in the City arts trails organised in London and Bristol by Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Foundation.

During the event, Shauns of all different patterns and designs appeared along trails in Bristol. The official ‘Shaun in the City: Sheep Spotter’ app was downloaded more than 78,000 times, and more than 225,000 trail maps were given out to visitors keen to track down every single Shaun.

The exhibition culminated in the Great Sheep Round Up event at Cribbs Causeway, where all the Shauns from the Bristol and London trails were on display for one last time in Bristol before moving to London for four days and then finally being auctioned off.

The show was very charming, with great attention to detail, such as ‘no food’ signs reminding visitors not to feed the (plastic) animals. Bales of hay on the floor added to the rustic charm and, of course, kept the Shauns comfortable. While adults enjoyed the subtle humour, the ‘literary sheep’ section proved especially popular with little lambs, where Shauns were decorated with images of characters from children’s books.

As with any agricultural show the Shauns were split into different categories, depending on the style of their design. The ‘Bristol breeds’ category celebrated all things Bristol, from the aptly named ‘Isambaard’ Shaun to the ‘Alright Me Babber’ Shaun, designed by Susan Taylor, who drew on Bristol’s industrial past and urban graffiti culture when designing her sheep. Particularly eye-catching were the ‘specialist fleece’ Shauns who had been decorated with sparkling buttons and postage stamps.

The Shauns have now been rounded up to be put on display in London, and will be auctioned off on 8 October, with all profits going to Wallace and Gromit’s Children’s Charity. But if you’re hoping to shepherd a flock of Shauns home with you, be warned – when they auctioned off the sculptures from the similar ‘Gromit Unleashed’ exhibition in 2013, the cheapest Gromit sold for £18,000. If that’s beyond your price range, the Shaun in the City shop has miniature versions of the Bristol and London Shauns that are slightly more affordable.

You can follow Polly on twitter at @PollyWritesYeah and read more of her work at www.pollywrites.com.

Filed under: Art & Photography

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