Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Horsing around

Usually when you think about horse art you have in your mind the image of a horse, paintbrush in mouth, knocking up something abstract on a canvas. Not in Hamilton. Another city obsessed with celebrating the shambles that was New Zealand’s inclusion in WWI, Hamilton has reached out to the horse to side-step the not-another-dead-man option. 

And there is some reason to do this.  Of the combined 25 million deaths in that war it was horses that represented over 30 percent. So, Hamilton was on the money when The Warhorse Charitable Trust invited art consultant Paula Savage to go global. Savage homed in on Mimmo Paladino known internationally as the go-to horse guy. He even has a horse sculpture 'at the entrance to the New Town Plaza in Hong Kong' according to Savage. So with one lot of horses safely in the funding pipeline, what about all the people in Hamilton who like ‘horses that look like horses’? 

Enter the Waikato Equestrian Memorial Board. It has come up with a drawing of a horse that fills the h-t-l-l-h requirements and offers a few irresistible add ons that can prove a challenge for much contemporary art - ‘child-friendly, able to be climbed over and sat upon.’ Now it too is out there raising money. It's horse of course will be easier to source (sorry) with lots of sculpture businesses up and down the country poised to knock up a full sized bronze one for anyone with cash. Exhauted? We’ll leave you with prescient Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock who was ahead of us all: 'without thinking' Leacock wrote, 'he flung himself upon his horse and rode off madly in all directions.'

Images: top left, exploring sitting-on possibilities, top right, on the big side for a horse that looks like a horse but could be dramatic in the right place at the right time. Middle, the sort of bronze horse you can order from China at if you want more than one. Bottom left, not realistic enough to fool the kid on the left and bottom right, the more abstract approach