With only one day until #HERD2023 launches as part of Kirklees Year of Music, we spoke to Huddersfield-based artist Dave Young, the creator of the 23 musical sheep sculptures that will soon appear in surprising places across the beautiful Kirklees countryside and towns…

Dave is an artist, maker, bodger, artificer, and apprentice rogue alchemist. He is a man who wears many hats, and since 1995, he has worked as a sculptor, animator, blacksmith and metalworker, to name a few vocations… Working closely and collaboratively with many other artists, Dave has designed and made giant puppets, mechanical beasts, installations and machineries of joy for outdoor arts events, festivals & processions. His work is collaborative, wistful, humorous and made with genuine blood, sweat and tears.

Working with Artichoke and heritage craft practitioners, Dave has dedicated the last few months to creating the impressive sheep sculptures that illustrate part of the epic layered tale of wool and water, movement and sound, industry and labour.

Dave standing with one of the singing sheep sculptures in the HERD workshop. He is wearing a blue checkered shirt and has his hands in his pockets. The sheep is to his left.
Dave Young with Giggit, a medium Rural Sheep, in the HERD Workshop. HERD 2023, devised by Orlando Gough, produced by Artichoke, part of Kirklees Year of Music 2023. Photo by Mark Leeming, .The Pull ©

Can you please introduce yourself and tell us about your role in HERD. 

My name’s Dave Young. I’m an artist and maker, and I’m responsible for designing and making the sheep sculptures for HERD So, when I started off making sculptures and art, I couldn’t really afford much in the way of materials. So, like a lot of people, I sort of turned to things that were affordable and available, which turned out to be junk and rubbish and found items, discarded stuff, etc…

Over the years I’ve not really grown out of that in a sense, although I do use other materials as well. I’m a very hands-on maker. I describe myself as a maker as well as an artist because what I really enjoy is getting a material and turning it into something else, transforming it, cutting it up, chopping it, mutating it…You end up with something new, something completely different from what you started off with. And I guess using lots of junk and scrap found items, you’re using something that’s already got a history. It’s already got kind of stories attached to it. It’s already had a life, which kind of makes it a bit more interesting than just sort of the usual raw material.

Sheep sculptures in the HERD workshop
Inside the HERD Workshop. HERD 2023, devised by Orlando Gough, produced by Artichoke, part of Kirklees Year of Music 2023. Photo by Mark Leeming, .The Pull ©

What do you enjoy about collaborating with other artists, dreamers, makers, musicians and performers? 

Collaboration is really vital if you’re an artist or a creative. Without it, if you’re just on your own, you’ve kind of limited purely to what you can do and your own horizons. As soon as you start working with other people and you start throwing different ideas, different perspectives, different approaches into the pot, then you end up with a much richer, greater stew than you would if you were just working on your own.

What is one fact about the HERD sheep that might surprise people?  

In my research I discovered that some sheep can remember up to 50 different individual faces! They have really good recall for faces, and that’s human faces as well as other sheep…


Large Rural Sheep Design. HERD 2023, devised by Orlando Gough, produced by Artichoke, part of Kirklees Year of Music 2023.

Why are the names of the sheep significant?

We named the sheep after an old way of counting called Yan Tan Tethera, which is a shepherd’s way of counting sheep, and it’s also become a kind of nursery rhyme. It derives from Celtic and Brythonic languages, and there’s a huge number of different regional variations of it across the UK, and iterations of Scots Gaelic, Irish, Cornish and even Breton languages. So, we used all of that history to kind of inspire sort of a series of names that kind of paid homage to that.


Find out more about #HERD2023 via the HERD website and plan your visit. Will you find the herd?