Wilma Cruise Sheep may safely graze (2004 – 2005) | Art.co.za | Art in South Africa
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Sheep may safely graze: The Return of the Bultfontein Sheep (2004 – 2005)

Oliewenhuis Museum, Bloemfontein
15 life-size sheep from The Dolly Suite (2003 – 2005) (edition 30)

The flock of 15 life-size sheep appear to walk down from the koppie to the NW of the museum to graze on the green grass of the lawns.


Sheep may safely graze: The return of the Bultfontein sheep was created as a signifier of a time of peace. The work makes reference to the past, specifically the slaughter of the Bultfontein sheep during the Anglo-Boer War (1899- 1902).

Amongst the atrocities, the English inflicted on their enemies during the war the slash and burn policy was arguably the most awful – and the most effective. It was designed to bring the civilian Boer population to its knees by depriving it of any means of survival. The countryside was ravaged and left devoid of sustainable life. The Boers and the many Blacks that were caught up in the war suffered extreme hardship. Crops were burnt and cattle, sheep and horses were slaughtered in their thousands. One such event occurred on the farm Bultfontein lying between the Vet and Sand rivers where sheep were herded together and shot. This event is captured in a photograph.

The horrors of the Boer war predate the awfulness of the apartheid era - the one foretold the other. Yet, South Africa succeeded in emerging from the turbulent 20th century as one of the freest democracies in the world. Now at the dawn of the 21st century, we live in a time of peace and prosperity. Sheep have returned to the fold, where they may safely graze.

The artwork signifies this period of grace. (Wilma Cruise 2005).

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