The results of our inaugural online show are in!
The response to this has been fantastic, thank you so much to everyone who participated. It’s been really great seeing all the photos that really show what an incredible breed of sheep the Icelandics really are. You can see first and second places in the slider below, click here to go to the individual class pages and browse all the photos. Below the slider is some details on our judges as well as their feedback on the entries, it certainly makes for an interesting read having the perspective of people not directly involved with the breed but with vast experience in their field.
1st: Westshield (ewe 1)
2nd: Knoweside (ewe 1)
- Pen-y-Lan (ewe 1) – A nice ewe, but the photos provided didn’t really show her to her best advantage.
- Haethfelda (ewe 2) – As above, another photo might have made all the difference!
- Haethfelda (ewe 1) – Shortlisted for 2nd place. Looks to have good width of pelvis, but the second photo lets her down.
- Edgeview (ewe 1) – Shortlisted for a placing. Very well presented in the first photo. If all of the photos of all of the sheep had been like that then my job would have been much easier!
- Hrafn (ewe 1) – To be commended for having reared an outstanding pair of lambs.
1st: Pen-y-Lan (ram 1)
2nd: Andrea Goodenough (ram 1)
Haethfelda (ram 1) – A serious contender for 2nd place.
Edgeview (ram 2) – A lamb showing good potential.
Rockliff (ram 1) – Very nice, but maybe not quite so characterful as one or two of the others, hence why he didn’t make a placing.
Loanhead (rams 1 & 3) – Two young sheep which I think will have good potential as they mature.
Remember, this is just the opinion of one man on one day. The same sheep tomorrow, under a different judge, might give a completely different result.
Accept the fact that certain things – such as teeth and fleece – can’t be judged in this type of show (unless the fault is really glaringly obvious), so if the animal I’ve just placed to win happens to have a really poor mouth, well that’s just the way it is – I can only judge what I can see. Primarily I’ve based my decision on posture and character, and considered other important points where the photos have enabled me to do so.
On the whole, the majority of the entries had better posture (good legs, short pasterns etc) than I was expecting to see, which is a credit to their breeders.
One good photo is better than 3 poor ones. Or worse still, one good photo followed by 2 poor ones that undermine any opinion I may have formed from the first impression. Always try to show the animal to it’s best advantage. Save the “cute” pics for the photo competition, and definitely don’t waste one of your three chances with a photo of an animal lying down. Likewise, photos that show just the head aren’t very helpful either, when you’ve got only 3 chances to present the whole animal to the judge.
The ideal would be three standard photos of each animal entered – one from the side, one from the front and one from the rear. That way, I would be judging like with like and be able to make valid comparisons between animals. Get low down to take the photos, otherwise you end up with foreshortened sheep with disproportionately large heads!
Now for a little grumble:
The Icelandic is described as a multi-purpose breed, that can be used for producing meat, milk and wool. You say so on your Society website. That multi-purpose characteristic is, to my mind, the most important feature of the breed. Take away any one of those production capabilities, and you no longer have true traditional Icelandic sheep. Yet not one single ewe entry was photographed from the rear, enabling me to see those important dairy characteristics such as a wide pelvis, nicely attached udder and good teat placement. Would you expect someone to judge a class of dairy cows or milking goats without seeing their udders?
Does the Society do anything to encourage potential new flock owners to keep Icelandic sheep for home dairying? Do you have any milk yield records that would be useful for anyone planning to do so? Are any existing members milking their ewes, and if not why not?
I worry that a situation could arise whereby the focus of Icelandic sheep breeders in the UK becomes almost entirely fibre-orientated, with meat relegated to the status of a by product, and dairy production not happening at all. If it gets to that stage then you will have changed the breed into something different. What will you call them then?
Breed Judge – Tim Tyne
Tim Tyne was brought up on a productive smallholding in East Anglia, and started his own flock of sheep at the age of 13. After leaving school he spent a couple of years shepherding in Suffolk, before moving to Wales in order to study agriculture at Aberystwyth. Tim then spent four years shepherding and living a self-sufficient lifestyle on a small offshore island, before returning to the mainland in 1998 in order to take on his own smallholding. He now farms on a small scale, together with his wife and children, on the Llyn Peninsula. Tim is a regular contributor to Country Smallholding magazine, and author of the popular Sheep Book for Smallholders. Together with his wife, Dot, he also wrote Viable Self-Sufficiency, the ultimate guide to smallholding and self-sufficiency. Tim believes passionately that smallholding should be a financially viable lifestyle choice for young families.
1st – Westshield, Photo 3
An excellent composition, use of available light, engagement – as difficult as it is from many of these animals and wonderful use of colour, texture and tone throughout this colour photograph. This photograph raises attention to the size, the revered wool Icelandic Sheep are known for and the addition of what could be a raddle mark adds a splash of folkloric colour and reality to the overall picture.
Just getting them to be in focus from corner to corner on the frame was an achievement.
2nd – Rob Eavis, Photo 1, The Flying Cayed Clio
Another excellent composition. What struck me with this photograph was the way you included the life of farming and included your family, a new lamb, new growth and hope for the breed is evident in this action image.
- Tregodfa, Photos 1 and 3
- Pen-y-Lan, Photo 11
- Fólkvangr, Photos 1, 2, 6 and 7
- Hrafn (close up of Ram looking into camera)
All these photographs met the challenge of working with a camera device and a live animal, in their habitat.
The work submitted by these people addressed the importance of composition, in some instances a narrative and the positioning of the camera and/or the photographer in relation to the subject. Getting down to eye level or in some respects, allowing the sheep to be higher than the camera, placing the sheep in the centre of the frame subconsciously points to how important, respected and loved these animals are on each smallholding or farm.
Experimentation and patience, standing still and often having a hand full of food will in many cases get the animal to ‘behave’ when creating that photograph, recording that moment in history and developing a legacy of this breed of animal.
Photography on Farms has been as much a part of life since the late 1800s, it is a primary record of the day to day existence of the families and their style of farming; the importance of keeping a visual diary of the livestock and preserving the memories for future families. Seasonality is important and with the making of any image so much more accessible to us all these days, being in a place, at the right time, often away from the madding crowd, farmers and smallholders are visual custodians of our history, as much as they are the people who nourish the nation.
An excellent grouping of photographs from a variety of locations, I look forward to seeing more photographs over the years to come.
Photo Judge – Ian Simpson
Ian Simpson Is an artist living and working in the North of England. A researcher, lecturer, writer and photographer, he writes and creates contemporary photographic work around metaphorical and theoretical ethnographic perspectives, recently returning to developing new work within rural landscapes.
After 25 years of owning and managing commercial studios, working as a freelance photographer in everything from fashion studios to war zones, and a University lecturer in photography, he is currently researching towards a Master of Fine Art degree at Belfast School of Art.
Working primarily with image text and sculpture, he has worked extensively in a number of countries studying the rural landscape, having lived as a citizen of multiple countries, his work is mainly inspired by culture and identity; with a deeper exploration rooted in his home County of Derbyshire. While simultaneously exploring ideas that highlight and investigate personal and collective histories, farming families and social appropriation in isolated areas of the country, he is exploring the notion of isolation in contemporary rural landscapes, in the midst of a pandemic, the changes in farming and an imbalanced political future.
Formally from a farming family, rural culture and the processes of the land are a major part of his future interests, work and direction of new creative opportunities.
A visiting lecturer at a number of universities and a studio director, he has been part of the judging panel for graduation exhibitions, commercial and public centre grant applications and has proudly sat on the panel to judge the winning artist of the student photographer of the year sponsored by The Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg, Sweden.