Sep 10 2011: Amateur Painting Of The Uffington White Horse With Birds (Artist and Date Unknown)

Some entries in this ongoing archive of random ephemera and objects (in fact, most of them) concern things I’ve found, or have noticed are in my possession for some reason close to the moment of posting them here. In the case of the painting shown above – by an unknown artist and from an unknown date – it’s been knocking around for a few years and is being posted here mainly as a way of electronically keeping it, while offloading the original, due to a need to clear a fair bit of space. It’s a curiously affecting image, with the primal presence of the Uffington White Horse echoed by the rough white birds circling above it like aircraft engaged in a dogfight. It’s fascinated me for some time how the thing has an abstract quality, yet is figurative; how crudely it’s painted, yet in places  how elegantly achieved it is – whether by accident or design. Mostly, though, it draws on the potency of the white horse itself, an icon of prehistory, though its actual origins appear disputed. Was it cut into the turf in the tenth or eleventh century as a kind of backward reference to an earlier era’s concerns or restored along the lines of an existing chalk monument? Whatever the truth about that (and generally it appears genuinely of Iron Age or earlier origin, so far as can be gleaned) there’s no denying its sheer presence either way in the landscape, or its way of evoking undercurrents of folklore and myth capable of bringing thoughts of The Wicker Man (a film steeped in often fabricated but highly potent folk music and imagery) to the mind’s surface.


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