Walling In

Public Outdoor Art Installation involving woven wool, sheep and the environment

Photos by Jeff Derose and Nancy Winship Milliken

This video is a documentation of a public outdoor installation by Nancy Winship Milliken of a wool pasture fence surrounding sheep. This sensory oriented installation firmly roots the viewer with a sense of place. It intersects the convergence of man, nature the environment and art.

…… Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

what I was walling in or walling out…..

Robert Frost, Mending Wall


This sculptural event was installed for one month at the Hartbrook School in Hadley, Massachusetts, during which time the community participated in weaving wool into a wire substrate. Wind and rain participated too, changing the character of the wall as the month wore on. The wire was kept loose so that the wind created a billowing and undulating affect as if the wall was alive. The wool wall enclosed sheep in their pasture creating a textural and sensory experience for the viewer.


Photo by Jeff Derose

When I was in Wales I would walk over the land of the sheep farm where I was staying, and find tangled bits of wool in the landscape, clinging to wire, branches, crevices of rock walls; the residual history of the sheep in the landscape.  Here, in New England, there are fences and walls of every type of material, protecting, containing, and delineating property and borders. These two thoughts are the germination of the project, but as with all art, it is only the beginning.

The sensory experience of feeling lanolin on one’s hands and smelling wool is as much a part of this art piece as looking at the texture and watching the wind play with tendrils of loose wool.