Gargrave based Bev Parker of Cum-bye Arts is a member of Craven Arts and has created the exhibition 'Yan Tan Tethera - counting Sheep’. Running from Saturday 29 June, she reveals some vibrant watercolour and mixed media paintings of British sheep breeds to promote understanding of their intrinsic qualities and northern upland farming practices. Her other textural works suggest the distinctive, often wild and rugged habitats upon which these hardy native breeds continue to thrive.
Yan (meaning one),Tan (two) Tethera (three) is a sheep-counting number rhyme traditionally used by shepherds in Northern England. They would count this way up to twenty, then make a mark on the ground, or on their shepherd's crook, and begin again, making five marks would result in counting 100 sheep. The system has also been used for counting stitches in knitting.
Ethereal qualities in JMW Turner’s later works have excited Bev's imagination for years whilst contemporary artists, Michael Morgan RI, John Blockley and Ann Blockley have led her to the joy of painting with watercolours. “My work is not tight and close, compact, or solid in structure, but light and free flowing allowing pigment to find its own space. My artworks suggest rather than describes, through layering they retain luminosity and the subjects spring forth from a flat plane”.
“My profound interest in sheep and upland farming practices arose from living for many years on a moorland sheep farm quite literally on the Yorkshire-Lancashire border south of Skipton, where we still breed Swaledale and Bluefaced Leicester sheep and produce crossbred Mules.
For 23 years I had worked as 'public rights of way' officer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park, often walking some remoter parts of the Dales and appreciating the special landscape, archaeology and observing the intrinsic agricultural practices carried out on traditional upland farms”. In retirement Bev studied at Skipton's Craven College and graduated in 2016 with a B A (Hons) in Fine Art.