Thursday, October 23, 2014

the longest walk

Whilst researching horses for the In Dreams installation I got to indulge in something I don’t usually have time to do: I spent hours on YouTube. I allowed myself to look into people-horse culture on the web, and catch up with some important stories, like a 2012 documentary (1) on the release back into the wild of endangered Przewalski’s Horse (2).


The Longest Walk, a constant search for food and water. Chased aluminium panel in alder frame. 2014.

The small herd has a huge battle ahead, not least as they meet up with the domesticated horses of nomadic herdsmen, competing for the same grazing territory, and are forced away from the support of food and water at the release station. The Longest Walk is about migration: the constant search for resources, and space for life in the herd.

As some commenters noted, watching this documentary was like looking at real-life cave paintings… Images of Przewalski-type horses are part of the 17,000+ year old cave paintings at Lascaux (3), and oldest yet discovered images—the 32,000 year old paintings in Chauvet Cave (4)—in mainland Europe, in France. In modern times, the Przewalski’s horse is considered indigenous only to the Asian Steppe; intriguingly, fossil remains in France show that animals depicted in the caves also lived in the region at around the same time.

I designed and grouped the initial pieces that make up the In Dreams installation based on four key themes: Move (equine paces); Challenge (their fight and flight responses); Flight (jumping); and Family - their relationships within the herd. More to come on all of these.

(1) Pure Nature Specials: Wild Horses Return To China, http://youtu.be/Cg2tVKvKp1A
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Przewalski%27s_horse
(3) Stunning web-site, a visit to the Lascaux Caves, in French: http://www.lascaux.culture.fr/?lng=en#/fr/00.xml, English:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lascaux
(4) “Cave Of Forgotten Dreams”, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1664894/ or http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/cave_of_forgotten_dreams/

Thursday, October 16, 2014

meet the herd

The Alberta Craft Council has posted the on-line exhibition for the “Well In Hand” show of human/equine-inspired art.


In Dreams. Installation of chased and repousséd aluminium panels, in hand-made alder frames.
Largest pictures are 11" x 11" x 2". Christine Pedersen. 2014.

I knew that my pieces for the Well In Hand show would focus on the horse, because it was inspired by the snapshots already in my mind, from my life of being around them: grounded as an observer, connected as a rider. I put myself in charge of their welfare, made myself the herd leader. But I am not the same kind of animal.

I have always been concerned about the fundamental needs of all animals and how they are apparently yielded, or reined in by us through domestication. Horses particularly must forego their natural, genetic, behaviours to accept our leadership. For all animals, it boils down to the “four F’s”, the drivers, or hormonally-regulated mind states, (1) of evolutionary biology: feed, fight, flight, and fornicate. And I ventured a fifth dimension to explore—family: their life in the herd.

Our horses rely on us—an exchange of their companionship and labour for our care. So it seems that our job, as herd leaders, is to meet these needs fully. And to continue to question whether all that we ask is reasonable.

I will continue to explore the key themes in my installation, In Dreams, in future posts.


(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Fs_(evolution)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

love at first sight

I'm sure it happens all the time to other artists, but this was my first time: I had that instant feeling of "I have to make work for this show". 

So I dropped everything, and chased horses.

I had a blissful summer, working away in the basement, and the result is “In Dreams”, a 17-piece installation now on show in the Alberta Craft Council's “Well In Hand” exhibition. This is a multi-artist show in the large, downstairs Feature Gallery space, and there is a really exciting range of scales and themes in the work. Life-sized figurative sculpture, jewellery, artwork for the walls and home, and conceptually-based work: it is clear from the artist's statements that the welfare and protection of the horse in society is on everyone's mind. Very gratifying that we are all, first and foremost, horse-lovers.