Site-specific outdoor installation in association with Andrew Crick Commissioner: Kim Biggs, Director, Shear Outback Museum
Round Up Maze is a sheep yard maze inspired by the award winning aerial photograph by photographer Peter Leaver, featuring a mob of some two thousand sheep being mustered on the Hay Plains. The photograph of circling sheep is one of the wool industry’s iconic images. When artist Marion Borgelt first saw the photograph she became intrigued by the mob’s formation, noting the sheep were basically running in circles. While the mustered sheep formed an almost perfect circle, Marion Borgelt saw that inside the circle there were some nexus points—points where the sheep paused and the mob began to turn back on itself. Marion Borgelt saw the perfect idea for a maze!
The shallow cone shape of the Round Up Maze was devised to stand out in the landscape and not to appear altogether flat. This shape was also introduced to provide a sense of entrapment so the participant felt they were entering an enclosure. The maze’s circular design echoes the natural pattern of movement of a mob of sheep—it is broadly known in the industry that sheep feel more comfortable moving in a circular motion.
The construction and materials of the maze reflect typical Australian sheep yards built prior to the 1970s when steel yards became more common. Sheep yards have played a vital role in our wool industry for holding and sorting stock. The shrinking labour force which made the pre-assembled steel yards more common also meant dogs became more important, as a good sheep dog allowed fewer people to work with sheep in yards – it was a period when the phrase “One good sheep dog is worth three men” gained greater meaning.
The maze has been designed to offer an interactive experience with an opportunity for visitors to understand what it means to be inside sheep yards—the sights, the sounds, the dusty atmosphere. Take the opportunity to borrow the audio program from the front desk, explore our unique yards. Immerse yourself in an iconic Australian experience.
Kim Biggs, Director Shear Outback, 2005
Aerial Photography: Kate Geraghty for SMH, Front Page SMH, April 23-24, 2005
Photography: Peter Leaver, mob of sheep being rounded up