Art & Culture

Wild About Horses in Public Art

There’s something about horses. Dog are loyal companions, cats are however cats see themselves, but horses are freedom and majesty. It’s no wonder that they’ve captured our imagination for thousands of years.

We’ll never know if the artists from 32,000 years ago who painted on the walls of the Chauvet Cave in what is now France were making art for themselves or to be viewed by their community. But we do know that horses were some of the prominent images that were depicted.

Claude Valette, CC BY-SA 4.0

Similarly, horses are commonly represented in North American Indigenous art, like these horses from Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai’pi in southern Alberta.

Akufen/Musee de la civilisation

And 3,000 years ago in Britain, unknown artists carved this white horse into a hillside near Uffington, a piece of art that is still being maintained today.

English Heritage

Our love affair with horses isn’t only a prehistoric phenonmenon. Horses continue to be a common theme in public art. The Kelpies, by sculptor Andy Scott, celebrate the connection between Celtic mythology and the modern day presence of horses in our lives.

The Kelpies of Flakirk. © Steve Kelly 2017

At Canada’s National Gallery, Joe Fafard’s sculpture, Running Horses, celebrates the connection between horses and prairie life. Fafard’s horses can be found across Canada, from Calgary to Saskatoon to Quebec, just one example of the way art brings us together.

Big Iron, CC BY-SA 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When you start to look for it, horse-related public art is everywhere, like this sculpture entitled One and One by John McEwan, from my city. These horses are small, maybe a foot tall, and easy to miss, but they add unexpected charm to an otherwise boring space. Do you have a favourite piece of horse-related public art? Maybe it’s a good time to look for one.

Lethbridge Lodging Association

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