My work is centred on the Australian horse in war with a focus on the horses sent to Palestine during World War One. Almost 39,300 horses were sent to the Middle East during the Palestine campaigns of WWI. The overarching narrative ‘all the horses were shot’ is a long held assumption that symbolises the loss of the human soldier and the overall occurrence of war. In reflecting on the role of the horse during WWI a confronting image of its experience arises in graphic eye witness accounts by Light Horse Soldiers.
Through an intuitive response to these histories my work relies on emotive and aesthetic aspects to uncover that which might otherwise remain hidden. The creative act of visually probing the soldiers’ personal stories assisted in gaining an understanding of the look of the horse body as it suffered through war, leading to a new interpretation. Employing drawing as a way to engage with this imagery, its visual form emerged within the marks, traits, traces and scribbles. Recollected images from my own lived experience combined with narratives surrounding the horse in this suite of works that depicts impressions of the war horse’s fate and suffering.
Returning to the studio, I am interested in taking my work in a new direction with a closer look at portraiture and the figure. Having focused on animal and human body language and emotion evident in those afflicted by war, I wish to explore this further in my practice through the application of materials.