"Horstory" Hooves and Steel

"Horstory" Hooves and Steel: The Warhorse in Conflict 

What?     "Horstory" Hooves and Steel: The Warhorse in Conflict. An exhibition by PHD Candidate Susan McMinn investigating the suffering and fate of the Australian Horse during the Palestine Campaigns of World War One.

Where?     The Phyllis Palmer Gallery, Visual Arts & Design building (via Gate 8 off Sharon Street),

La Trobe University, Edwards Road, Flora Hill. Enquiries may be directed to the gallery administrator, Candy Stevens, email candy.stevens@latrobe.edu.au
When?     Thursday 13 December 2012 – Friday 11 January 2013.

Gallery hours: Monday to Friday,9am – 5pm.

Opening Night: Thursday 13 December at 5:30pm

Note: Gallery closed during Christmas from 24 December. Reopening Thursday 3 January 2013

Artist Statement

Artistic investigation into historical moments encourages a new way of seeing, extending beyond tradition paradigms and prevailing ideas, through the presentation of new knowledge in visual arts practice. During World War One, Australia sent approximately 136,000 horses to serve in Palestine. Only one horse was returned to Australia. During service horses suffered; they died and were thrown overboard on the 54 day voyage to the Middle East; they were injured and lost to battle, suffered exhaustion, starvation, illness, blazing desert sand in their eyes, blistering heat, saddled sores, flies and scorpion attacks. They were always thirsty. The horses carried weight beyond their normal capacity and were marched during the night for up to 90 miles at a time. The horses were shot, blown up, galloped towards gun fire, and finally, destroyed due to age, injury or illness and when the war was over, some were sold to continue Army Service. At the end of the war, possibly the most inhumane act was that the surviving horses were to remain in the Middle East. This ‘leaving behind’ had a long lasting effect on the Light Horse soldiers, their families and following generations. An outpouring of grief materialised in a torrent of stories, poems and oral histories that has effectively created the historic legendary story that ‘all the horses were shot’ at the end of the war. Unfortunately this legend fails to recognise the suffering and fate of the horse throughout the entirety of war service. Overshadowed by humanist sentimentalism and the disjuncture between historical war narratives and the soldier’s personal diaries, the story of the horse in war is lost to the clandestine narratives hidden in the confines of our institutional archives. It is within the creative process of searching and visually documenting the story of the horse in war that this visual arts investigation sits. Together with the exegesis, the visual component deals with artistic conceptualisation of historical narrative, disjuncture, the warhorse and the animal in art. Through the medium of printmaking, painting, drawing and animation, the studio investigations seeks an alternative expression of the horse in war. Barbara Bolt (2007) suggests that visual analysis ‘enables a shift in thought itself’.  Bolt explains that visual argument enables both the artist and the viewer to consider things in a different way. Therefore, in this investigation, it is intended that visual re-interpretation of this particular historical Australian narrative will facilitate a new contemporary understanding and meaning of the fate and suffering of the horse in war.

Media enquiries:

Candy Stevens, Gallery Administrator, candy.stevens@latrobe.edu.au 

Zerin Knight, Media Liaison, Ph 5444 7375 M 0428 463 161 E z.knight@latrobe.edu.au