2nd to 16th July, 2022

“We need animals.  Animals don’t need us, but we need them.  We constantly look for any kind of connection we can possibly get to them”

Britta Jaschinski, photographer.  

My own creative inspiration is the horse, and this exhibition of paintings is based mainly on the equine groupings that I observe near my home in rural Scotland. I try not to project my own needs and emotions on the animals I love.  I want instead to focus on the intimate and private communication between horses that exists quite independently of the human world    I am fascinated by this communication, and these paintings show some of that language of hierarchy and devotion that I observe on my daily walks.  

Edinburgh Palette, St. Margaret’s House, Edinburgh, EH7 6AE  

One day some years ago I was driving from Stirling to Balquidder for a retreat at the Dhanakosa Centre.   As I drove through the valley of Strathyre, my eye suddenly caught two Highland ponies standing motionless in a kind of meditation against a damp green background of grass and trees.  I have kept this image  every since and tried to make a work from it.  I am not sure if I have succeeded yet, but I am getting closer as I realise that what is central to the composition  is the shape of the horses’ backs, and in fact all the shapes made by their heads and legs.

This is another horse group, but one that I know much better.  The cobs live in a field very close to my cottage in the outskirts of Stirling.  I have observed them and their descendants for years as new foals arrive each day.  Sometimes I have seen them in the snow, their patterned coats blending in with the trees and contrasting with the white ground.  Always I am impressed by their independence and the obvious bond they have with each other and with the stallion who lives with them.  I have taken one photograph and made a series of paintings, trying always to get to the crux of the subject.  I was fascinated by the patterning and that started to become the central issue.

I have been very interested in the Parelli system of natural horsemanship, and a few years ago I travelled to Colorado to study at the Pagosa centre there for six weeks.  This was an incredible experience as I was surrounded by expert horsemen and horsewomen who took horsemanship to a whole new level.  I was a novice but nevertheless I learned so much and deeply appreciated the experience.  More recently I signed up for a personal development course with Linda Parelli.  This was run on line and the participants came from all over the world.  This beautiful horse lived in Australia and I was immediately stunned by his presence, strength and what I perceived as a kind and positive nature.

Last year in lock-down I happened to watch a TV programme about rewilding.  It included a section on Wicken Fen, a National Trust project in Norfolk, and there were these wild ponies, brought in from Eastern Europe for their hardiness and suitability to the wet and sparse environment.  The clip showed the close bonds, independence and pride of these horses and I immediately grabbed my phone to record a few images.  These images are the inspiration of the series of paintings.  I was not sure how these would work out because the colour and light were a bit distorted due to the TV, but I really wanted to capture  the feeling of this scene.  I became quite bold and started focusing on shapes and blocks of colour.  I really like the effect.  I made the paintings in two versions each, one around 600 x 420 mm, and the other larger on plywood  760 x 610 mm.