When Chris and John Yearsley were thinking about creating a feature for their lawn in Penelewey, they hit upon the idea of having a life-size cow on it that could be moved around as if it was grazing.
Having previously lived in Truro, they’d been impressed with similar bovines that had been placed at key points in the city a couple of years ago. Full of enthusiasm, they sourced a supplier in Newton Abbott but, when visiting the showroom, encountered a problem.
“I wanted something that I could carry so, when Chris looked out of the window in the morning, the cow would be in a different place,” said John. “It immediately became obvious, though, that the adult creatures were too big so we went for a calf instead.”
The calf was white. Originally the plan was to paint it so it looked more realistic. Over dinner with friends Jules and Pete Smith, however, the vision changed.
“Jules is a very talented artist and illustrator and we asked her if she would take the project on,” said John. “The more we talked, the more we realised we could aim for something really special.”
The design would be focused on reflecting the beauty of the flowers in the Yearsley’s garden – including camellias, rhododendrons, bluebells and a variety of hydrangeas.
“Although I’ve worked as a professional freelance artist for many years, I had never worked on a three-dimensional object before but my textile experience fortunately proved invaluable,” said Jules, who lives and works in Carnon Downs. “I based the concept on a Friesan cow – keeping the hooves, tail and head relatively realistic but switching the dark areas of the coat to clusters of flowers and linking these areas with flowing leaves.
“I wanted her to appear as if she was standing in a natural meadow so I also added bluebells, campions and poppies that creep up her legs.”
The three-month creative process began with Jules doing pencil and watercolour studies that she then transferred to the calf in hand-painted acrylic.
“We’ve called her Hydrangea and she’s absolutely beautiful,” said John. “We’re so proud of her, we organised a launch party in her honour.”
Does she graze around the garden?
“On sunny days yes but we’ve now decided she’s so precious that we keep her in our garden room most of the time. She really is a work of art.”