One of Skipton’s famous fibreglass sheep returns to the fold at auction One of the original members of Skipton’s famous flock of decorated fibreglass sheep has made a welcome return to the town after being bought in an online auction by local town centre shop owner and artist Helen Peyton. Mrs Peyton, who runs The Magpie in Albion Square, had to go well into three figures to bag the sheep, one of 25 life size sculptures commissioned by Skipton Town Council to capture the feel of a Dales sheep as part of its highly successful tourism-boosting Flock to Skipton initiative in 2010.


Both local and national artists were invited to create unique designs for the sheep, which went on view around the town before going under the hammer at Skipton Auction Mart when auctioned off in aid of local charities and to fund future commercial and tourist promotion events.

A decade later, one of them, which was originally hand-painted by local artist Maria Silmon and christened ‘YouEwe,’ returned to a timed two-day online auction at the mart, where many interested parties made sheep’s eyes at the unusual lot before it fell to Mrs Peyton, who took over The Magpie six months ago.

She describes the business as “a unique retail shop and gallery brimming with decorative treasures, an eclectic collection of curiosity and fascination, featuring art, rugs, vintage furniture, collectables and gifts.”

Mrs Peyton also runs the shop as a studio, staging regular art classes and workshops, including life drawing, print making and upcycling furniture. In addition, she is a former artist in residence at Craven Museum in Skipton and is currently in residence at The Hepworth art museum in Wakefield.

The sheep – its ‘fleece’ is currently looking a tad ragged - has currently found temporary pastures new in Mrs Peyton’s home studio, where she will employ her artistic skills on a programme of ‘sympathetic restoration and titivation’ utilising Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, which she sells exclusively in the shop.

It will then go on permanent display outside The Magpie next to Skipton’s main car park behind the Town Hall. The shop is currently opening on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays 10-4pm, or by appointment.

“It might have cost a pretty penny at £360, but I don’t feel in any way that I’ve been fleeced. Far from it - in fact, I’m confident the new-look sheep will turn out to prove a real baa-gain for the business!” jested Mrs Peyton.

On a more serious note, she added: “It should certainly be an eye-catcher and help attract more people to this part of town, where footfall has plummeted since the closure of Rackhams.”

Maria Silmon, who now lives and works in Whitby, commented: “I’m delighted to hear ‘YouEwe’ has returned to the flock after a decade and is still very much alive and well.  Flock to Skipton was a very enjoyable - and dare I say ‘ewe-nique’ - project to work on and created a great buzz for Skipton town. 

“I’m so pleased to hear the sheep I painted will be restored by the capable hands of fellow artist and new owner, Helen, and I hope it brings more attention and footfall to the area.  I very much look forward to seeing the results.”

The fibreglass sheep was one of the more unusual lots that went under the hammer last week at Skipton Auction Mart’s second online timed auction of machinery, implements, vehicles and many other associated items. A full report on the sale appears on this week’s farming pages.

Jeremy Eaton, the mart’s general manager, said: “Timed online auctions such as these are proving increasingly popular, creating tremendous interest not only among farming communities, but also members of the general public.

“It’s amazing some of the things we have sold, not only recognised agricultural-related items, but some weird and wonderful objects that people have dug out from their outbuildings, garages, sheds and attics. We can only advise them to have a look. If it’s saleable we will be more than happy to try to sell it for them!”

Skipton’s next online general timed auction for all classes of machinery, vehicles, ATVS, implements, plant, stone, reclaim, salvage, smallholder equipment and other general items is due to take place on Wednesday and Thursday, September 23 & 24. The entries deadline is Friday, September 11. Full details are at