Anatomy of a Horse Interview
By Paul Constable
Questions to Roy Hickling (project curator)
1. The image changes dramatically and is quite distinctive throughout all the seasons. Was this variety of imagery anticipated?
We did expect to see dramatic changes but I don't think we could have anticipated the variety, subtlety and beauty of what evolved. The seasonal crop colour changes, shadow and light with time of day and textural variations due to tillage and harvesting combined to create some stunning results. There was also a strong element of chance and synchronicity with our aerial photographer arriving just in time to catch amazing images that wouldn't have been possible an hour earlier or later
2. How were people initially supposed to view the image?
I chose a field that had a knoll in one corner and the original idea was to build an elevated viewing platform in that corner and host the project from there. Someone suggested a ferris wheel (for during the match) and we went that route instead, along with tethered and free floating balloon rides over the area. From that height the horse still looked distorted - you really had to get up in an airplane to appreciate the accuracy of the horse and many people saw it that way as well.
3. A project of this size had to involve the farming community, seed experts and other science specialists. How was the response to this project, received by the general public?
Very well. This project had something for everyone, whether they were a farmer, artist, potential sponsor, member of the media, or the general public. People could be taken by it as a piece of art, be interested in the technical challenges it presented, or be supportive of an art gallery that was raising money for the cause of world hunger. It's a rare thing to present something with such a wide degree of accessibility and it made the task of funding and promoting a lot less difficult.
I think it is fair to say that the Fafard Project was a major and influential contributor to the evolution of the gallery and has yielded enduring benefits.
Click any thumbnail to go to the fifth image gallery
9. How was the show opening presented to the public to convey the scale of this project? Photos, installation etc.?
There was an opening at the field June 15 /97. We mailed out a brochure invitation with a packet of soybeans attached inviting the public to come out and participate in planting the horse. There was no official opening speeches. The only level of formality was provided by a piper marching around the perimeter of the horse while playing, which as I recall took about 45 minutes. Joe was there, some media and hundreds of people. There was a tent with activities and information but for the most part people just wandered around the horse, poked their seeds into the spaces left by ungerminated seed and quietly enjoyed the day. To this day it's simply the best opening I've ever been to.
During the match there was an opening at the Maple Hill Gallery (MacLaren's previous home) that combined Joe's prints and sculpture, with images from the field. There were photos of surveying and planting, a computer scrolling aerial images and some large computer generated prints.
10. What happened to all the harvested crops?
They were delivered to a local elevator (Charwen Farms, who donated their services ) and were then donated to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (I had become aware of them through local farm press and a few local projects -there are now quite a number of Foodgrains projects in the area). Funds raised were matched 4 to 1 by the Canadian International Development Agency, which I believe, raised the value of our contribution to 60 or 70 thousand dollars.
11. Designing colours and textures plus throw in the growing variable of different crops, who helped plan this out?
I provided Joe with a timetable and description of our eastern Canadian crops in case there were some he wasn't familiar with (it's on the web site). We kept in touch by phone and fax as Joe was designing his crop picture. Joe's idea to hold off harnessing the horse until after harvest was a particularly good idea. It maximized harvest, gave an interesting change to the horse and we used Joe putting on the "tugs" at the plowing match as a media event (that was fun even though he drove fast and had me worried he was going to crash my new discs on a rock).
12. I found the image in the winter was more of a pleasant surprise than the summer and fall. It almost takes on a dry point etching or an intaglio look. Even when the project was over it continued on. Did you find this as well?
Most definitely. I had assumed that the horse would be at it's best, while in full bloom and that once harvesting started it would become less interesting. The opposite is true with the shots after the match including some of the most spectacular of the whole project. The ones with the first snowfall of 97 are my very favourites. The final shots are also pretty special. I had disced the perimeter of the horse and the harness several times knocking the structure out of the soil and when the field was plowed there was this perfect line drawing of the horse unexpectedly coming through the furrows, looking just like Joe's drawing that we started with. The shots from Nov 27 (my 40th birthday) with just a light dusting of snow providing a purplish tinge, have a ghostly quality and mark the end of the project quite fittingly.
13. Are there other projects of this nature in the works? Is there anything left of this project to remember it by, with the exception of the web site?
I'm not aware of any plans for crop pictures locally...I personally wouldn't want to invite comparison. There are a lot of t -shirts and flip books floating around and I have a couple of binders full of amazing photographs that hopefully someday will see the light of day.
14. How wide a reach did you attain from this project - Regional, National and International?
All of the above. Local print and news media, CBC's Morningside, This Morning, Country Canada, Newswire stories, Magazines -Border Crossings, Canadian Art, a British horse magazine and more.
15. Was there any spin-offs generated from this show? General interest, lectures etc?
Joe's print suite "The Spirit of the Horse", slide shows and lectures. Joe Fafard’s web site is www.joefafard.com
Links to Related Articles
Back to:World's Largest Drawing Seen from Space
Back to: Anatomy of a Horse - William Moore
Paul Constable is the Director of Artists In Canada. He is a Painter / Printmaker and
Senior Graphic Designer for an Advertising and Communications company in Saskatoon,
Paul Constable can be reached by email HERE
His paintings may be viewed at:
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