AN UPMARKET shop has caused Christmas controversy with a window display showing eight maids-a-milking – with lambs at their bare breasts.
The bizarre scene, on Peckhams delicatessen in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh, was created by Scottish gin company Hendrick’s and is titled ‘The Hendrick’s 13th Day of Christmas.’
It uses a mixture of taxidermy , dolls with moving parts and live animals to re-imagine the eighteenth century James Haliwell carol. Passers-by thought the images of the maids in the display were ‘a bit tasteless.’
The man behind the artwork said though it might cause some controversy, it was ‘very beautiful.’
Three live giant snails with painted shells fill in for the three French hens in the display. The bugs have to be fed lettuce by Peckham’s staff every morning.
A lone partridge also sits in a cucumber plant, an ingredient of Hendrick’s gin.
Eight mocked-up photographs show young women suckling lambs.
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.
“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.”
He continued: “People have reacted to it with everything from bafflement to joyous wonder to a little bit of shock,usually at the maids-a-milking.
“It might cause a little bit of controversy, but we feel the piece is actually very beautiful.”
The display will be taken down at the New Year, but there are plans for it to be moved to the Little Shop of Horrors inLondon, a museum of strange objects including winged cats and shrunken heads.
Passers-by reacted with surprise at seeing the display appear in the genteel streets of Bruntsfield.
Mum Fiona Mason, 34, from the area, 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.”
Patricia scales, 60, from the West End of Edinburgh said the display might raise eyebrows in the city.She 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 positive.
“Peckham’s is full of lots of interesting and unusual products and this ties in as being something quirky and modern.”
Eight artists were involved in creating the piece, including puppetmakers, an undersea diver and a surrealist performer.