I was recently asked by someone: “Why do you only create artwork about horses?”
The obvious answer to this question would be “well, I love photographing them!” ( which is what I said) but for some reason on that particular day, that simple question had me soul-searching. Whilst deep down, I understand the connection and emotion they provoke within me. Why do I simplify my passion for horses?
Clearly some of my followers old and new might not completely know why my work is inspired by horses (both wild and rare) or I wouldn’t have been asked this question. The only way I know how is to begin through imagery.
Growing up, I always felt a bit of an outsider. I wasn’t particularly academic and I had undiagnosed dyslexia. Although I struggled deeply in school with anxiety and panic attacks, I never told anyone as I thought I was just a bit odd. I was told often I was stupid and would never amount to anything. To cope, I discovered my love for nature as I often loved to escape and walk in my neighbouring countryside. Exploring lots of expressive mediums from sculpture to photography, I somehow got through highschool and into art college where I began to grow and feel more comfortable in my own skin.
I loved studying art. The first time I really felt personally moved by artwork was on a group visit to the Tate modern in London at the tender age of 19. I’d gazed in awe at some of my favourite artists such as Francis Bacon, lucien Freud. To mark the end of a wonderful day we had time to visit the gallery shop! I had £5 to spend and as I looked through the art postcards I came across the postcard below – ‘The Girl in the Window’ by Salvador Dali.
I stared at it for ages. I felt like someone had physically punched me in the stomach and it took lots of composure to stop me bursting into tears. This little postcard unlocked something inside me that day. I vowed not to be that girl in the postcard anymore, looking out of the window, yearning to go outside, live and be free in the world to be herself. That day I knew that one of the most important things about myself was freedom. The ability to have an open heart and always be myself, a bit kooky, and even ditsy at times but nonetheless my creative self.
From that day on, I had something to prove to naysayers and myself that I was worthy of the life I wished to create for myself. That’s when I realised the power of art from a simple postcard print. Horses are my daily reminder of that little art postcard which I have still at my desk nearly 30 years later. On a personal level, they are my constant emotional barometer. They ground me in times of anguish, they spur me to go forwards in times of doubt and stoke the fire within me when I need to be brave.
One of the most beautiful sights in the world is a horse running without restraint. Undoubtedly, this power of this wild abandon is why horses inspire my artwork. When I photograph horses roaming free (both wild, rare and even domestic), I revert back to that insecure young girl who suddenly found her voice in this world. I know that the very act of photographing horses and creating artwork for this world is my way of expressing a need in many of us who from time to time need that wind of freedom, support and bravery blowing on our backs to unlock and inspire us to be our true selves no matter what.