Mutton dressed up as Lamb

2011, by JMW

For his epic readymade sculpture, Bull's Head, of 1943. Pablo Picasso used two mundane parts: the upturned racing handlebars of a bicycle and the machine's saddle. In a similar vein, JMW used a mere four supermarket or shop pieces to make this sheep sculpture: a workbench, a carpet beater, a clothes hanger and a fleece. This Duchampian structure was envisaged many months before its actual construction. JMW knew that he could produce some animal magic when he pressed down too hard on a cheap work bench in his garage studio and the bench collapsed. He already had the coathanger tail and knew that the body could easily be fashioned from bath mats or similar material; the problem was the head.

Months went by as he sought in vain to consider what he could possibly use from the world of commerce that would act the role of a head. Then, in an eureka moment while lying in bed one morning during the Indian summer of October, 2011, he came up with the solution - a carpet beater. Now he had used one of these as a child assisting his mother in Mansfield to whack a mucky carpet hanging over a clothes line in a Garnon Street garden. The carpet beater was still in the household of the family when his father died at Worksop in 2001, but no-one knows where it is now.

So JMW decided to search the internet for this ancient implement largely killed off by the advent of the vacuum cleaner and was astonished to find that carpet or rug beaters are now advertised on sex shop sites as bondage and fetish paraphernalia. Nevertheless, he persisted in his search until finally locating what he wanted on the Headcook and Bottlewasher website. Now would this creation be a sheep or a llama to be labelled animal magic? No. Now JMW had another bright idea, he would call it Mutton dressed up as Lamb as this was an expression frequently made by his mother when denigrating the dresses sported by women of a certain age shopping in Mansfield with more disposable money than she had. Others might label this as envy.

So with a new Silverline work bench (Tool Station, Chingford), a clothes hanger (M&S, Romford), the fleece resembling a sheep's coat (Sew Fantastic, Islington) plus the traditional wicker carpet beater (Crown Supplies, Norfolk), JMW set to work creating the sculpture using the workbench vice handles to keep the head and tail firmly in place and a stapler to knit the fleece together. And, hey presto, Mutton dressed up as Lamb was created fully formed. And, unlike another proponent of sheep as sculpture, a certain D. Hirst, no blood at all was spilt and neither did it need a liquid-filled vitrine to accommodate it, being quite happy to stand proud in its natural environment, grassland in the garden of the artist.