Friday, January 31, 2014

Free Mountain Sheep

I took this photograph rather a long time ago, probably in 1989. So I guess this denizen of the hillside is long gone. I came across the photo in my archives and it took me a while to recall what project had taken me to a valley in South Wales. I do like the sheep though - it seems quite stalwart and is clearly going somewhere. The symbolism of the sheep does not differ from that of the lamb. It is a sacrificial victim, killed to ensure its own salvation. In suffering the sacrifice, the Lamb ensures its own renewal - overcoming death and the powers of evil, a  pre-Christan symbolism now shared by Christians and Muslims alike. The Lamb was once portrayed on the Cross, flanked by the sun and moon but this changed in 692 in Constantinople and it was ordered that Christ as man should be on the cross. I wanted to draw a parallel here. I was surprised to learn recently that across the globe, 2 out of every 3 farm animals are factory-farmed and never see the light of day. This is an appalling statistic from many points of view. In mistreating our animals we are mistreating ourselves. Livestock farming has been around since 5000BC but never have farm animals been so dreadfully abused. Poor animal husbandry has become the rule not the exception. An organisation called Compassion in World Farming is campaigning against this and I stand with its members. What a fortunate creature that sheep was, to be out in the open, wandering at will.