CattleGrid – how sheep form the landscape

CattleGrid, full video.
Sheep tracking data, Google Earth animation, beamerprojection, sound, 16 minutes, ± 100×70 cm

Short description

In the work Cattle Grid we see the sheep (by means of their gps-data) grazing quietly for a long time, until at a certain moment Ben, the shepherd dog is called to round up the flock. In the first 10 minutes the work shows the slowness of the landscape, inspired by the languid grazing of the sheep. The frenzy that follows with the arrival of the dog seems to disturb the calm, but both suggest the economic motives of the shepherd: the sheep go via a corral (there they are sheared, cared for or vaccinated) to the other pasture that also needs to be grazed. Peace follows again.

Murdo-McDonald-en-Esther watching Cattle Grid at HICA exhibition
Murdo McDonald and Esther watching CattleGrid during the exhibition in HICA, Scotland.
Murdo McDonald is Emeritus Professor of History of Scottish Art at the University of Dundee, and writer of the essay about this exhibition titled Space Inscribed.
CattleGrid at the exhibition mEATing, Tilburg, The Netherlands, 2011.
Cattle Grid at the Exhibition mEATing in Tilburg
The title was inspired on this traffic sign that we found near HICA in Scotland.

Artistic Motivation 

We did a short artist in residency in 2009 at the Highland Institute of Contemporary Art in Scotland, located near nature reserve Loch Ruthven, in a rugged landscape. We wanted to explore this landscape in our own way. We work with GPS because it allows us to create a representation of the forces that have shaped this landscape, rather than a snapshot of what the landscape is like now. That is something that makes this way of working possible. During our residency, we focused on two of those forces that we believe are dominant in Scotland: the wind (see links below) and the sheep.

Presentation history 

2011, Tracing mobility, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany.
2011, solo exhibition, PuntWG, Amsterdam, Nederland.