Maids breastfeed sheep in 13 days of Christmas display

It is enough to make anyone think they had indulged in one gin too many.

An artistic interpretation of the 12 days of Christmas featuring live snails, drumming haggis and maids suckling lambs has been created to fill the window of Peckham’s delicatessen and restaurant in Bruntsfield.

The depiction of James Halliwell’s carol uses an elaborate array of taxidermy, dolls, moving parts and even live animals.

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The dreamlike creation is the brainchild of Scottish gin brand Hendrick’s and is entitled “The Hendrick’s 13th Day of Christmas”.

Gone are the traditional ideas and in their place, three giant snails with painted shells – which have to be fed lettuce by Peckham’s staff each morning – represent French hens. A lone partridge sits in a cucumber plant, an ingredient used in the famous gin.

Somewhat controversially, a woman representing the “maids” suckles a lamb in eight mocked-up photographs.

David Piper, curator and Hendrick’s commander of special operations, said: “We wanted to do something about the 12 days of Christmas and Hendrick’s always likes to do things in as unusual a way as possible.

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“The carol is very confusing anyway – if your true love had given you a partridge and doves and 10 lords a leaping, your true love is a bit weird. You’re going to be pretty confused and on the morning of the 13th day you’ll be dreading what they give you next.”

A team of eight artists are behind the display, including puppetmakers, an undersea diver and a surrealist performer.

“People have reacted to it with everything from bafflement to joyous wonder to a little bit of shock – usually at the maids-a-milking,” said Mr Piper. “It might cause a little bit of controversy, but we feel the piece is actually very beautiful.”

After the display is taken down in the New Year, there are plans for it to be sent to the Little Shop of Horrors in London – a collection of strange objects including winged cats, shrunken heads and two-headed teddy bears.

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The unusual display has certainly been attracting a lot of attention from passers-by.

Mum Fiona Mason, 34, from Bruntsfield, said: “The maids one is a bit weird.

“The rest of it’s really great – I love the haggis and the lords-a-leaping – but I think the whole eight-maids-a-milking thing is about a maid milking a cow, not breastfeeding a sheep!

“It’s a bit tasteless when there are small children going past.”

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Patricia Scales, 60, from the West End, said: “It’s a really interesting display, but I can imagine a few of the Morningside ladies having a heart attack when they see it!”

The creation was built into the shop window overnight and unveiled on Thursday morning.

Shop manager Lyndsey Hogg said: “Overall, the reaction has been very positive. Peckham’s is full of lots of interesting and unusual products and this ties in as being something quirky and modern.”

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