Are you hare aware? - Banksy-style ‘hare bomber’ creating mud sculptures in artistic campaign to combat illegal hare coursing in Lincolnshire

'Iam hare aware' - the mud scuplture that appeared at the Sleaford Standard offices overnight. EMN-170921-130104001
'Iam hare aware' - the mud scuplture that appeared at the Sleaford Standard offices overnight. EMN-170921-130104001

A Sleaford ceramic artist has turned into a Banksy-style ‘hare bomber’ creating mud sculptures of the creatures to raise awareness against illegal hare coursing gangs targeting Lincolnshire on a daily basis.

The artist, who currently has asked to remain anonymous due to the criminal gangs behind the illegal bloodsport, is going under the pseudonym, ‘I am hare aware’ and has so far crafted four life-size sculptures of hares from mud, straw and grasses.

The message attached to 'I am hare aware' outisde The Sleaford Standard office. EMN-170921-131725001

The message attached to 'I am hare aware' outisde The Sleaford Standard office. EMN-170921-131725001

Two have been placed overlooking fields off The Drove in Sleaford for the last couple of weeks, another appeared last night on a traffic island next the junction of Grantham Road and the A15, while a fourth appeared addressed on the doorstep of the Sleaford Standard offices this morning (Thursday)!

The Standard made contact with the artist and she explained: “I am a local maker and ceramicist and my work sells around the world, appearing in London, Sotheby’s and even Downing Street, but my passion is to protect the hares from the hare coursers by raising awareness of what they are doing and how they go about it.

“Last year I spent a lot of time checking fields in the area and phoning the police when I saw something. The fields have been destroyed by men going over them in their cars, it is incredible.

“I spoke to a farm manager and he has been tearing his hair out as it has been a free-for-all when coursers are out with their dogs at 2pm in the afternoon bombing around in front of passers by, destroying the crops which will push up the prices of food for the rest of us.”

A bedded hare in a field near Sleaford, photographed by 'I am hare aware'. EMN-170921-130030001

A bedded hare in a field near Sleaford, photographed by 'I am hare aware'. EMN-170921-130030001

More mud hares are to follow as she has got several other artists interested in coming on board along with Sleaford’s National Centre for Craft and Design.

The artist says her ‘hare-brained scheme’ is not about making money, it is about declining numbers of hares in local fields. “I have checked and they (local hares) have gone down from 36 to six in two years and most of them have been coursed,” she said. “For numbers to fall that quickly it must be illegal activity and that is sad.”

The artist said people should expect more mud hares to pop up as the art project develops, explaining that she came up with the idea of using mud as, if left outside in the rain, the sculptures will gradually melt back into the ground.

The hare artist said working with mud is different to clay, as it is more crumbly when trying to manipulate it into shape.

A hare on the move in Sleaford area fields photographed by 'I am hare aware'. EMN-170921-130041001

A hare on the move in Sleaford area fields photographed by 'I am hare aware'. EMN-170921-130041001

She said: “I am building them in little handfuls of mud pies.

“I have had help from two students from Nottingham and anybody that wants to come and help is encouraged, the more makers the better and children can have a go. I want it to become a community project.”

There will be a mud hare making workshop all day outside the NCCD in Sleaford on October 22 for all to join in. “I may add some concrete to the mix to make them more permanent,” she said.

“The Hare Preservation Society are aware of what I am doing and I have two other artists interested in taking the project further from Kent and Scotland, and the NFU magazine is interested too.”

The ‘hare bombing’ is already generating some discussion on social media. Look out for more mud hares in the neighbourhood and beyond soon.

A spokesman for Lincolnshire Police, which leads Operation Galileo to combat hare coursing and rural crime in the county, said: “We are pleasantly surprised to hear of this artist’s passion in raising awareness of hare coursing. She is absolutely right that it causes damage to farmers fields and the falling number of hares is very sad.

“Farmers and their families are regularly subjected to terrible abuse, sometimes violence and generally made to feel unsafe. We are working tirelessly to detain hare coursers and we arrest those responsible whenever we can, as well as seizing vehicles and their dogs.

“If these creative sculptures help encourage people to report incidents of hare coursing then we are all for it. We might even pop along on October 22 to try and make one for our station!”