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Horse tales

PUBLISHED: 16:27 28 May 2008 | UPDATED: 09:47 23 August 2010

A TURNER Prize winner hoping to build a 164ft white horse for the Angel of the South sculpture has hit back at criticisms he did not know the symbolic implications. Mark Wallinger s white stallion design in classical repose is up against works from fou

A TURNER Prize winner hoping to build a 164ft white horse for the 'Angel of the South' sculpture has hit back at criticisms he did not know the symbolic implications.

Mark Wallinger's white stallion design in classical repose is up against works from four other artists to create a £2million sculpture in the heart of Ebbsfleet Valley.

It had been claimed that he did not know that a white horse is the symbol of Kent until his design was completed.

He said: "This is very annoying. Of course I know the symbology, it's written into my proposal.

"Unfortunately at the unveiling I was trying to tell an interesting story about why I did it.

"When it was confirmed as the symbol of Kent it was deflating because if that's the symbol of Kent, I had just designed a horse."

Wallinger's white stallion is in a traditional pose with a bridle as opposed to the stallion rearing up on a red background used as the county's symbol.

He said that during internet research he discovered the origins of Hengist and Horsa, two Saxon brothers who landed in Thanet in the 6th century, thought to be the origins of the Kent symbol.

He said: "There were various reasons why I chose the horse and later in the day the Invicta thing came up.

"I went to Dartford library to research the history of the area. That confirmed some things I already knew - the chalk, figures cut from the Downs. It did seem serendipity that I would find it was on every Kent council letter head."

He added: "The pose of the horse is very important to me, it's how they are normally photographed, but it's also a horse in a field. That has integrity, it's uncanny, it has a certain magic.

"It's very difficult to sum up the reasons why I came up with the idea."

His work from 2001, Ghost, depicts a white horse rearing up taken from an 18th century painting by George Stubbs, Whistlejacket.

Wallinger turned the nine-foot image of a dark-bay stallion into a black and white photograph, then a negative, reversing the tonality and the colour of the stallion.

Wallinger said: "I had already created a horse rearing up so to re-produce the coat of arms of a county wouldn't have been very interesting."

Martin.sawden@archant.co.uk

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