Bowmont Merino sheep flock to the Royal Academy of Arts to celebrate Wool Week 2013
To celebrate the final weekend of Wool Week and the Royal Academy’s major Australia exhibition, a flock of Australian/English Bowmont Merino sheep temporarily took up residence in the Royal Academy courtyard.
As Australia is the world’s largest producer of Merino wool, The Woolmark Company and The Campaign for Wool are proud supporters of the RA’s Australia exhibition, the most significant collection of Australian art ever mounted in the UK. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is both the Patron of the exhibition and The Campaign for Wool.
Taking centre stage at the Royal Academy were a new breed of British sheep, the Bowmont Merinos, specially bred for their soft, fine wool, by Lesley Prior in Devon. In 1988 the Macaulay Institute in Scotland crossed Australian Saxon Merino rams with Shetland ewes, regularly adding more Australian genetics to refine the wool and improve consistency. Since 2005/6 Lesley Prior continued the work using selective breeding to produce wool between 14 and 18 microns in diameter. Average British wool is about 30 and a human hair about 90 microns. The genetic nature of the wool brought by the Merino gene lends itself to extra fine apparel wear, in contrast to typically coarser British wools.
Farmer Lesley prior, Australian High Commissioner Mike Rann, Vice-Chairman of the Campaign for Wool Nicholas Coleridge, and COO of the Campaign for Wool Peter Ackroyd enjoy the flock at the Royal Academy of Arts
Taking advantage of the rare sighting of a flock of sheep in central London, guests were invited to discover their inner artist and be part of a live sketching class. Visitors of all ages joined in the family workshop supported by Jeanne and William Callanan, where budding young artists had the chance to sketch the beautiful Bowmont Merino sheep, adding a wooly landscape to go with their masterpieces.
The ‘Australia’ exhibition runs at the Royal Academy of Arts until 8 December 2013 see more here