Teeswater sheep and their wool take centre stage at a new exhibition- with a showstopping wedding dress

A Nidderdale photographer has spent two years documenting Teeswater sheep for a special exhibition which opens next weekend.

The exhibition at the Dales Countryside Museum is all about Teeswater sheep and their amazing wool.
The exhibition at the Dales Countryside Museum is all about Teeswater sheep and their amazing wool.

Melissa Peakman, has been visiting farms and agricultural shows across North Yorkshire to capture the images which will be on show at the Dales Countryside Museum – alongside a showstopping Teeswater wool wedding dress.

The project, which has been a labour of love, started with a request she photograph the Teeswater breed sale and it was there she said she realised how much she liked the sheep and the people around them.

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It soon snowballed with Melissa meeting breeders, photographing lambing season and charting show ring successes.

She said it had given her a fascinating insight into the life of sheep farmers.

“I live in Nidderdale and I had seen the sheep around in the fields, but I had no idea how much graft was involved. It is really hard work.”

She said she was also fascinated to see how much history there was with the breed, meeting one farmer, who could trace the bloodlines of his herd back to the family’s first Teeswater sheep in 1947.

The Teeswater sheep have very distinctive ‘‘locks’’ and Melissa said she had been interested to find out how these were used and she was put in touch with Summerbridge-based textile artist, Yvonne Le Mare.

Yvonne incorporates the curly locks into her designs and when the idea of holding an exhibition around the Teeswater sheep, was born, Yvonne decided to create a special piece using Teeswater wool.

The wedding dress is created with some of the prize-winning Teeswater fleece from Nidderdale breeder, Andrew Fisher.

The exhibition has been supported by many of the breeders and farmers Melissa has photographed with crowdfunding paying for the printing costs.

“Teeswater breeders got right behind it, and the Teeswater Breed Association has been very supportive and helpful with the crowdfunding,” Melissa said.

But the exhibition will not mark the end of Melissa’s involvement with the breed or the Teeswater community.

“It has been fantastic project to be involved in and people have been so welcoming,” she said.

“I feel I have made friends and just because it has ended does not mean I will stop taking pictures.”

Teeswater Year: Farm . Fleece . Fashion, runs from next Saturday until Wednesday, April 22 at the Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes, dalescountrysidemuseum.org.uk