The artist behind an amazing arts project that will get Huddersfield talking has done some fantastic festival and street art work nationwide.

People will be amazed next week when 23 sheep start to appear across Huddersfield in the latest eye-catching phase of Kirklees Year of Music.

The sheep are made from steel with coverings ranging from fabrics to wood to bits of junk – in fact everything and everything – and will play music instead of the usually boring baa.

The idea for the sheep came from artist Dave Young who lives in Birkby, has a workshop off Britannia Road in Milnsbridge and his mission in life is to bring art to life and take it out to the people.

Dave’s designs can be so off-the-wall he was once described as a “totally bonkers Mad Max steampunk womble.”

Dave Young making a creation from the junk people throw away

The Huddersfield brief was to come up with an idea for unusual sound installations to put across Kirklees and Dave thought of sheep to reflect the area’s rich textile heritage and the idea evolved from there.

The project runs from Tuesday, July 11 to Sunday, July 16 with the 23 musical sheep sculptures designed and created by Dave ranging in size from one that’s just above the usual sheep size to a monster that’s more almost 15ft tall.

The project’s name is HERD and traces the cultural and industrial story of Kirklees through its many musical traditions, past, present and future.

Each sheep will play its own sound including brass bands, choral, gospel, Punjab boliyaan, beatbox and school choirs.

Over the six days, 23 larger-than-life sheep sculptures will appear across Kirklees, each singing their own individual soundscape. As the week progresses, the sheep will move from more rural locations into the towns, their sounds reflecting a more urban and industrial reality as they go.

The HERD will finally arrive in St George’s Square, on Sunday for an epic sonic spectacle that will bring together all the hundreds of musical contributors for a stunning concluding performance of five specially-commissioned songs for Kirklees.

Dave, 50, has done community and youth art, street theatre, outdoor installations and sculptures and was even a blacksmith for a while.

He said: “I’ve ended up specialising in temporary sculptures for events and found that so much more creatively interesting than permanent sculptures.”

His work draws in a range of skills including puppetry, mechanics, animation, pyrotechnics and special effects.

He said: “I love art that’s non-traditional in towns, streets and festivals – art that’s brought to life where everyone can see it and not imprisoned in a gallery. It’s great when art pops up in places people don’t expect, art that’s in and among the people.”

Dave loves to reuse and recycle so his work will include everything from old bedsheets and sacks to plastic milk bottles and any kind of junk he can find such as scrap metal and old garden chairs.

The Huddersfield sheep are all built from a steel framework, bamboo and willow but their coats are all radically different from fabric to wood with one of the sheep finished off with abandoned wooden fence panels.

People attending this year’s Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival will have seen Dave’s Jaberwocky and fish animated sculptures along with a sheep – a prototype for the July sheep.

Dave Young’s Jaberwocky. Pic by Jane Gaffikin
Dave Young’s Beast. Pic by Jane Gaffikin

Everything Dave produces is odd or wacky but among his most off-beat creations are a 30ft effigy of Irish pop due Jedward and a rhino in a wheelchair.

“Strangely enough the ideas are the easy bit,” said Dave. “It’s turning them into reality that can be really difficult. A lot are hybrids or mutations of things such as giants who are half human and half beast. I get several ideas and then squish them together to turn them into something.”

Dave has been helped on the sheep project by his partner, artist Jane Gaffikin, and his freelance art designs have taken him to other countries such as Ireland, the USA and Australia.

To see more of Dave’s work go to his website

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.