With the Tour de France passing through on Saturday 5th July, the historic market town of Masham was going to be one of the best places to watch the race – in person or on the television. So the idea was hatched of painting a temporary 1000m² sheep on a bicycle, visible from the Tour’s helicopters, to emphasise Yorkshire’s largest market place.
The staff at Masham Primary School embraced the idea enthusiastically, and a gorgeous sheep design was created by local artist Robert Blades, whose child attends the school. The sheep was painted by all 97 of the school’s pupils on Friday morning, using poster paints. (Every tube of yellow paint from every school for ten miles around was also used!)
Even when the elements intervened and the rains came on Friday night, a volunteer army of parents and teachers came out to retouch the washed-out sheep on Saturday morning.
And then the Tour came through, and for 33 seconds a billion people around the world were treated to pictures of the sheep looking resplendent in its historic market-place setting. Eurosport commentator Carlton Kirby described it live on air as “one of the most beautiful artworks we’ve seen today. Or on any Tour.”
Masham Parish Councillor Flo Grainger said, “What could be more appropriate on the largest market place in England, used for sheep sales for centuries, than this inspired design!? The enthusiastic children from Masham Primary School all had a hand in creating this masterpiece – the best ground art feature of the Grand Départ. Well done Masham School, we’re all very proud of you!”
Ruth Davies, Headteacher of Masham Primary School, said, “Everybody at the school came together to make, and then to save, Robert Blades’s beautiful work. Parents, staff and above all pupils will all remember this weekend for as long as they live.”
Nick Reed, Co-ordinator of the Masham Grand Départ Steering Group, said, “When I first suggested this idea to Mrs Davies and the Parish Council, I thought they would laugh it off. But Masham is a very special town, and everyone has come together to bring this ambitious plan to reality. Robert Blades’s work is accessible, technically skilled, and just lovely to look at; everyone in Masham is very proud of it.”
Copies of the photograph are now available from Mashamshire Community Office. Tel: 01765 680 200 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org