Compass Festival commissions FOUR LEGS GOOD



Jack Tan

Leeds Town Hall
Corridor installation 17 – 24 November
Day of live hearings 24 November

1pm – Snoopy the Jack Russell charged with two counts: sheep worrying and aggravated sheep worrying contrary to the Protection Of Livestock (Worrying) Act 2013.

3pm – Crayfish murder appeal, a challenge to R v Dudley and Stephens (1884) 14 QBD 273.

5pm – Marla the Staffie charged with 1 count of ‘being a dangerous dog’ under the Crimes By Animals Act 1928.

Commissioned by Compass Festival

Four Legs Good is a contemporary revival of the medieval animal trials which took place in Britain and throughout Europe, where animals who had been accused of committing crimes were brought to court, provided defence counsel and prosecuted in full hearings before a judge.

For Compass 2018, artist Jack Tan will reimagine Leeds Town Hall as the site of a fictional Department of Animal Justice and stage a series of live ‘moot’ animal trials where practising barristers will argue claims brought by or against animal clients, before a judge and jury at the old Victorian courtroom in Leeds Town Hall.

Exploring the legal framework which surrounds humans, animals and our shared environment, the work invites us to reconsider our understanding of the position of humans in relation to animals and the environment. Leeds Town Hall users will encounter what appears to be a working Animal Court evidenced by signage, court leaflets, legal heritage displays and a court website. This culminates in a day of live hearings of animals belonging to and nominated by local animal charities and organisations, where the animals will also be bringing cases of their own against humans.

Compass 2018 runs 16 – 25 November 2018 throughout Leeds.


Photos: Lizzie Coombes