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The First Charcoal Horses

In 1994, in the valley of France’s Ardeche River, the Chauvet Cave was discovered. Within are the oldest works of art on record with some dating back 32,000 years. When collapsing rocks sealed off the entrance, estimated some 25,000 years ago, the mysteries hidden deep inside remained preserved. The cave appears to have been occupied by humans during two distinct periods: the Aurignacian and the Gravettian. Much of the artwork dates to the earlier, Aurignacian, era of about 30,000 years ago, while the later Gravettian occupation, (25,000 to 27,000 years ago), left little but a child’s footprints as well as the charred remains of fireplaces and ancient smoke stains from the torches that had once illuminated the caves.
Hundreds of animal paintings are depicted, numbering from among thirteen different species.



The Rising Tide

At Nine Elms, on the south bank of the Thames in London,  you will encounter– at low tide – four amphibious stallions of stone.

The sculpture, titled The Rising Tide, was commissioned as part of the month long event, Totally Thames. The celebration of the river and its place in London’s history will be taking place during September of 2015.

The sculptures are positioned to be submerged beneath the murky  depths at high tide, then once again gradually revealed as the tide goes out.

The beautifully rendered bodies of the horses, so carefully and accurately detailed, possess eerily machine-like heads, recalling the mechanical “horse heads” of oil well pumpjacks.

Each horse has a rider, recalling the four horsemen of the apocalypse – although the apocalypse these figures foretell is an environmental, rather than a Biblical one. Two horses carry the arrogant figures of either politicians or businessmen, the other twoScultura-che-emerge-dal-Tamigi are ridden by children, representative of hope and responsibility for the future.

“This piece is about fossil fuels, which way we’re heading, and where our future lies,” says the artist behind the piece, sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor.

Golden Horses

The Spanish origins of the word ‘Palomino’ may have come from the golden grape of the same name grown in Spain, or likely perhaps from Juan de Palomino the Spanish conquistador who was given a golden horse as a gift from Cortez.  Queen Isabella de Bourbon of Spain reputedly filled her stables with over one hundred pale golden horses, and reserved the rights to own a horse of this colour exclusively for the nobility. It is because of her passion for Palominos, that still to this day, in Spain as well as Latin America, they are known as ‘Isabellas’.

Equine Zen

The horse is the symbol of energy and effort in Buddhist practice. Revered eleventh-century yogi, Milarepa, poetically illustrates the mind’s often untamedIMG_8519 potential. Surely a true dressage meditation…..

In the mountain hermitage which is my body,
In the temple of my breast
At the summit of the triangle of my heart,
The horse which is my mind flies like the wind.

He gallops on the plains of great bliss.
If he persists, he will attain the rank of a victorious Buddha.
Going backward, he cuts the root of samsara;
Going forward he reaches the high land of buddhahood.
Astride such a horse, one attains the highest illumination.

Gift Horse

London’s Fourth Plinth art project continues its controversial modern twist to the somewhat more traditional landmarks in and around London’s Trafalgar Square.

The latest offering, “Gift Horse,”  took up residence in the Square’s northwest corner recently and delves into the link between power, money and history.

London mayor Boris Johnson unveiled the sculpture, which was created by 78 year old German-born conceptual artist Hans Hacke.  The skeleton of a riderless horse has a ribbon-shaped electronic ticker tied to its left leg which streams live market data from London’s Stock Exchange. The sculpture is based on the engraving “The Anatomy of a Horse” by English artist George Stubbs which just so happens to reside in London’s National Gallery just across the Square.Gift Horse

Lucian Freud-Equine Art

Not being the scholarly type, the German born British artist Lucian Freud, instead developed his intense love of art and of animals, particularly horses. As a young man, when not painting, he was looking after and even sleeping in the stables with the horses. Randall Wright’s documentary Lucian Freud: Painted Life on BBC 2 is the only video ever made of Freud painting. “The artist’s obsession with his subject is all that he needs to drive him to work”.

Sultan the Pit Pony

Sultan the Pit Pony,  is a contemporary raised-earth sculpture located in a former coal mining area of Wales in Caerphilly.  Created by Mick Petts, the earth sculpture is named ‘Sultan’ in honor of a pit pony who had once labored in the local mines.  Until the early 1980’s, ponies were used to haul the heavy tubs of coal to the surface. This engraving shows a pony being lowered into the depths.Being lowered into the mine. At the peak of coal production in the early twentieth century, there were more than 70,000 ponies laboring deep within the Earth. Sixty thousand tons of coal shale was used to create the enormous tribute, also a reminder of the Industrial Revolution that changed Britain forever. Sultan

Horse Skulls

Deep in the foundations and walls of many ancient buildings throughout Europe, horse skulls were concealed as protective talismans believed to dispel the harmful forces of dark magick. Interestingly, it has also been proposed that others found beneath the floorboards of some old homes and churches are there because they possess a resonance that happens to significantly improve the sound quality of music making! 

 Three horses’ skulls were discovered in a small cavity just above the bells in a church that was being repaired in Northumberland, England in1877.  Whether placed there as pagan protection, to improve the acoustics, or as an act of sanctification is still a mystery.