Horses and the Sky at Night

It is rare that I start with words, but this small group of new works came from a title determined well over one year ago as a way of providing myself space to explore and create under increasingly challenging circumstances. My focus turned inward to elements that inspire my imagination, the horse a symbol of the untamed mind and the night sky, its mysterious darkness sprinkled with stars, that in themselves speak of something vast and compelling. In this time of grieving for that which is lost, it is this inner world of forceful imagery that brings solace, in my cellar studio, in a foreign land with no glimpse of the sky as I work.  Whilst longing for the liberty I once had, these works have come out of a retreat into the freedom of art when the doors closed on the life I knew. 

The energy of this time, flowing around and through me comes from a greater series of events in which I am inconsequential, like a drop of rain on the coat of a galloping horse. I attempt to find a hold through these direct images, these skies and animals in motion contrasting the static atmosphere of the cyclical lockdowns and restrictions. To think about the great rhythms of the universe, to expand beyond the grief of this moment and connect to something distant from me through my art is a saving grace. I retreat further into my work and practice stabilises the possibility to retain dignity in the face of adversity.

The paintings are formed with direct and gestural marks, using a big brush to push the paint along or lay it down in energetic flicks like tails of creatures. There is a cement horse, solid and archaic, collecting leaves and starlight on its broad back, a silver horse bearing a green leaf, perhaps hope. Paint, the most spontaneous way to describe dreams and memories, sidles up to other materials, silver, glass, gold, galaith, rusty steel. There are horses that are brooches, with piles of stones. Are these clouds, or a burden, like the weight of knowledge? The horse becomes an element of weather, out of control, enraged or omnipotent, heavy rain. Others have galloped off the surface and hang as pendants in their own space, free to make their amuletic way in the world on their human companion. The paintings, sculpture and jewellery here are one thing, without hierarchy, without concern for convention, created with the same gesture and thought across diverse media. These works are messengers of this time, recognising the reality of our plight, the desire to run, to be that animal free in the sky.

Helen Britton February 2022