Schmichael the chicken tells future

Cyril Street and Schmichael the hen at the Corn Exchange in Leeds, ahead of interactive art installation Mystic Chick, as part of the Compass Live Art Festival, Leeds, November 19 and 20.
Cyril Street and Schmichael the hen at the Corn Exchange in Leeds, ahead of interactive art installation Mystic Chick, as part of the Compass Live Art Festival, Leeds, November 19 and 20.

Where else would bird lover Cyril Street meet Schmichael the hen but at the Corn Exchange?

The unlikely pairing was hatched ahead of the Compass Festival which will see a ‘chicken temple’ being created at the Leeds venue as part of an interactive art installation.

Half a dozen hens from Bywater Hall and Lodge care home in Castleford will be involved this weekend in Mystic Chick by artist Felicity Barrow.

They will spend Saturday and Sunday within a temple in the arches of the Corn Exchange.

The project has been inspired by ancient civilisations who followed signs and symbols to predict the future. Visitors are invited to ask their own questions of the hens, and interpret the answers.

Mr Street, 90, is a resident in the care home which has been taking part in weekly hen-inspired art activities for the past year. It is part of the Lottery award-winning HenPower project, an initiative set-up and supported by creative ageing charity Equal Arts.

The residents not only play an active role in the care for their hens, but are given the opportunity to broaden their horizons and experiences through participation in art sessions.

Several residents from the home will visit the hens during the weekend, when the installation will close temporarily to host them.

Mr Street, who lived on a farm as a child, said of Schmichael: “She’s lovely. I like the hens. It makes me feel at home as I kept hens and rabbits as a child.”

Tracey Tomlinson, director of customer experience at Orchard Care Homes group, said; “We have seen such a positive impact in the homes that have the HenPower project.”

Nesfield Lodge in Belle Isle and Lofthouse Grange and Lodge, part of the Orchard group, are also on board.