Sheep, Cattle, Horses

Christine Porter photo by Gail Galloway
I might be painting sheds but in the background are always the sheep” photo by Gail Galloway.

Australian artist Christine Porter in her journey as a “serial artist-in-residence” throughout rural and regional Australia since 1984, has built an art practice about the sheep and wool industries. She also makes artwork about cattle, and occasionally horses. 


'Down at the yards' 1990 watercolour on bristol board 65x34cm Christine Porter
‘Down at the yards’ 1990 Watercolour on Bristol Board 65x34cm. Sold
'The hereford' 1995 watercolour on paper 59x45cm Christine Porter
‘The Hereford’ 1995 watercolour on paper 59x45cm collection of Barcaldine Shire Council.

“There are some sheep in the yard you might be interested in…”
In 1990, Christine had been painting woolsheds for some time, along with the occasional attendant livestock, when Richard Bagshaw rang up one morning. ” There are some sheep in the yards you might be interested in”, he said. New enthusiasm engendered by what she saw that morning; the dust, backlighting, and a “bristol” board surface to paint on instead of traditional paper, resulted in a body of work that meant that for some time then, back at the beginning, Christine was known as a painter of sheep. The first sheep paintings had dated from before she left teaching – 6 years before this phone call, when a holiday during shearing at “Abbotsford”, Hughenden gave her a first-hand look at what would develop into a career-long fascination.  It was a few years later when the phone rang again – ” there are some cows and calves in the yards,” Richard said. “Are you interested in having a look at them, seeing as how you liked the sheep so much…?’ Work from that series graces the shire council collection in Barcaldine and private collections Australia-wide. The cattle and sheep are a subject she returns to as the inspiration strikes, part of the story of the grazing properties she visits, as well as being subjects in their own right.

painting series

'ewe' 2015 acrylic on board 9x9cm Christine Porter
Sheep 2015 Acrylic on board . A celebration of the Australian Sheep industry 
…to be continued. Christine enjoys making artwork about the sheep and wool industry. Especially the sheep.


‘Lamb’ 2008. multi plate colour etching  5.7×5.8cm edition:90 colour variations throughout the edition. Created from drawings made of a Swaledale sheep in The Lakes district. More information 

selected archive

Matriach‘ 2015 acrylic 18x13cm. sold
Penned Sheep‘ 2007 watercolour. sold
Lady in Waiting‘ 2007. watercolour on paper .Sold private collection. Available as greeting card. Read more
‘wee lamb‘ 2007. watercolour on paper .Sold private collection. Available as greeting card. Read more
‘ewe’ 2009 watercolour and body colour 8x6cm Sold private collection

hese paintings have been sold into private collections across Eastern Australia.

A series of  paintings of sheep and lambs of varying breeds, by Australian artist Christine Porter . Acrylic on board: various sizes.

I saw my first sheep in 1980. I was 19 years old and at uni in Armidale. I remember the astonishment. I often wonder if pre-cognition would have changed my view of  those two sad ewes looking forlornly through the fenced 

high school Ag plot. Another three years would pass before I began creating artwork about this subject, by which stage I was living in North Queensland in a small town surrounded for hundreds of miles, by thousands of sheep. It’s thirty years since those first explorations. Since then I’ve painted many different breeds, from the iconic Merino to the celebrated Scottish Blackface.  It’s been an ongoing if sporadic theme, peripheral to my work about shearing sheds. 

Exhibiting artwork about sheep, in both Scotland and Australia, I have become increasingly aware of the place this subject has in people’s hearts and cultural memory: for all the urbanisation of our emotional and geographic landscape. This series explores the idea of an Australian sheep industry that is not solely about the Merino that it’s so famous for. I see sophisticated cross breeding, even in small flocks, and sheep bred for meat more often than fleece. It speaks of an industry determined and thriving, even as changes take it further from its romantic past than those who  prospered through its boom times could ever have imagined.
Christine Porter, Lismore 2015

'Inquisitive' 2015 acrylic. 18x13cm. sold
‘Inquisitive’ 2015 acrylic on board . 18x13cm. sold
'Curious and curiouser' 2015 acrylic 18x13cm .sold
‘Curious and curiouser’ 2015 acrylic on board 18x13cm .sold
'matriach' 2015 acrylic 18x13cm. sold
Matriach‘ 2015 acrylic on board 18x13cm. sold
'How soft and furry they are' 2015 acrylic. 15x11cm. Sold
How soft and furry they are‘ 2015 acrylic. 15x11cm. Sold
‘Days old’ acrylic on board 10x10cm SOLD
ewe‘ 2015 acrylic on board 9.5×9.5cm Collection of the artist
'Augustus' 2015 acrylic 15x11cm .Sold
Augustus’ 2015 acrylic on board 15x11cm .Sold
'Crowded house' 2015 Acrylic 18x13cm. Sold
‘Crowded house’ 2015 Acrylic on board 18x13cm. Sold
'Lamb in May' 2015 acrylic 10x10cm. Sold
‘Lamb in May’ 2015 acrylic on board 10x10cm. Sold

British Sheep Breeds

Scottish Blackface‘ 2009 watercolour on paper. Exhibited Annual Exhibition Australian Watercolour Institute. 2009 Sold

installation-view-toowoomba-regional-gallery-jan-2008A series of watercolour paintings of some of the British breeds of sheep by Australian artist, Christine Porter, created from her 2007 McGregor Fellowship UK trip. Exhibited: Toowoomba Regional Gallery, Jan 2008; The  Moree Gallery, April 2008 and at the Royal Highland Show, Edinburgh, June 2008 – where Christine was the official guest international artist of the National Sheep Association.

artist statement

(excerpt from exhibition catalogue) “The seven day Hadrian’s Wall walk , from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the east to the Solway Firth in the west, is 165 km, and crosses land farmed for more than two thousand years. The pattern of fields of improved pasture, grazing the ovine and the docile, fenced and hedged and walled, seemed repeated all over the UK; not once in the three months of my trip was I out of sight of fence or house or town. This series of paintings, individual sheep that stand in for all the once native elements of this once wild place, describes how generations, nay, tens-of-thousands of generations of invaders, landholders and city-dwellers have subjugated the wild there, resulting in the land as a palimpsest; native stock as exotic and a people tucked safely away in their houses, warm and protected from “nature”. 
Christine Porter  Toowoomba 2008 


All the paintings from this series have sold, however they created such interest that  Christine and the web-designers decided to keep the page up. A small multi-plate colour etching inspired by this series is still in edition. The sheep card set  continues to be a favourite.

'Lamb' 2008 multiplate colour etching. some avalability
‘Lamb’ 2008 multiplate colour etching. more information 
Sheep Cards buy now

selected archive

This is a small collection of the work from this series which has sold into private collections in Australia and the UK. Contact Christine if you have a breed of sheep you’d like her to see. Please note, colour may vary from what you see.

'Feeding time' 2007 watercolour. Sold
Feeding time’ 2007 watercolour. Sold
'Farmer' 2008 watercolour. Sold
Farmer’ 2008 watercolour. Sold
'Beatrix Potter's Herdwicks' 2007. watercolour. Sold
Beatrix Potter’s Herdwicks‘ 2007. watercolour. Sold
'Penned Sheep' 2007 watercolour. sold
‘Penned Sheep‘ 2007 watercolour. sold
'Scottish blackface and twins' 2008 . watercolour. Sold
Scottish Blackface and twins‘ 2008 . watercolour. So


Usually I’m there to paint the shed, sometimes there’s sheep in the paddock, or cattle in the yards. Sometimes they become part of the project . Sometimes they become a project all on their own. Sometimes it’s just about what they look like: the shape, the colour, the tone, the contrast, the composition. Sometimes it’s about the painting before it’s about the subject. That’s what being an artist is about. It’s not about making something because it might sell, or because it’ll look good with the sofa. It’s about what makes your heart feel like it’s coming into land at Barcaldine airport. In the middle of summer. In the oldest DC3 in the fleet. You’re not really sure if you are going to make it, and all you can think about when you land, moments after your lunch wants to, is that at the Royal Easter Show people pay good money for experiences like this.
Christine Porter 145 17’13″E, 22  33’24″S

selected archive

Wyagu‘ Field sketch 2016 watercolour on paper 15x15cm Collection of the artist.

Just at the moment Christine has no cattle paintings available. However if you are interested in commissioning her to paint your breed/herd/pet, she’ll be happy to consider it. Follows are a series of paintings that have sold.

Tahlia’s song’ 2013. acrylic on powder-coated steel saw-blade. approx size: 45cm diameter Sold private collection The Story:It was a few months before Christmas when the young man from Rockhampton phoned to see if I could do a painting that he had an idea about for his fiance. She had cattle and was did horse-sports, and would I do a painting about them on a saw blade from his uncle’s sawmill, he’d asked. At first I was reticent: there are a lot of bad paintings on old sawblades. But I said I’d try. He sent the photos and the powder-coated saw-blade. After that it was just a case of designing. I enjoyed the process, though it not something I need as my main practice: I think I love paper too much to swap it for cold hard steel. But his fiance loved the work, I enjoyed doing it, and the young man was happy with the results. Win, win and win.
‘calf ‘ 2009, watercolour on paper 14 x 15cm. sold private collection
Brahman III‘  2010 watercolour on paper  14 x 15cm Sold
‘Tahlia’s Song’ (detail)



If Australia rode on the sheep’s back, then it got there by climbing on the horse’s first. As I travel now, there’s little evidence of both the heavy horse that carved out the land, and the famous light horse that allowed for long range shepherding and that forged an Australian identity in wartime. On some places it’s not even a generation ago that the two-stroke replaced horse-power: in others it’s a distant memory. Unused blacksmith’s buildings, piles of stirrup irons, sheds full of old tack: museum sheds now, that were once a daily imperative. In nearly thirty years I’ve met only one family still using horses for everyday mustering, but I’m still meeting horse people and riders. Sportspeople, professionals within the industry, hobbyists, breeders and more, all speak of a connection that goes far beyond the pedestrian need for workhorse or speed. The horse in Australia’s history constructed our landscape: the horse in Australia’s present celebrates it.
Christine Porter, Lismore, May 2012

available paintings

Christine has only a few paintings from the working-horse/horse-sports subject matter. Contact us for more information about price, availability, the possibility of other paintings not on this site, or to book a studio visit. Please be aware that the painting may look slightly different on your screen.

Box of horse-shoes‘ 2010 watercolour on paper 33x27cm
‘In the days before Mount Panorama‘ 2009 watercolour on paper 14x15cm

available etchings

Even though I don’t usually make artwork about actual horses and their riders, I have  skirted on the edge by using the IDEA of the horse in some of my etchings in the  other people’s treasures” series, using it as a symbol to explore more personal artwork.

remember  2011 multi plate colour etching 6.1 x 6.6 cm some availability Read more
it’s your move 2008 multi plate colour etching  5 x 4.4cm some availability Read more

available Giclee prints

Full Moon Publications have published two paintings from this series as limited edition fine art Giclee prints.

R3 Saddle
R3 Saddle limited edition giclee print,  image size 33 x 33 cm, page size 54 x 50.5cm, edition size 200, published 2011 price $200 buy now