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UK ARTIST Russ Chester

Sheep shearing doesn’t rank highly among the topics that typically capture an artist’s attention. But it caught Russ Chester’s eye. The artist, who relocated from the north of England to Wales, has produced a series of paintings celebrating the craft.

“When I first moved to Wales I got involved with shearing on the farm where I was living,” recalls the successful oil painter. “I was gathering and wrapping the wool - I didn’t actually do the shearing because it takes quite a lot of skill to do that. It’s a yearly event. New Zealanders and Māori’s used to come over. It was a good cultural exchange. Local shearers used to have a circuit where they would start off in Wales, then go to Canada and on to New Zealand, returning to Wales. They would just do a circuit round the world, shearing. You would see these guys stripped to the waist absolutely dripping in sweat and crikey they’d get through some sheep. They’d have a counter that they’d click when they’d done one. Half the time they were just wrestling sheep. The sheep weren’t taking too kindly to it especially when there were rams.”

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