National Sporting Library and Museum exhibits Nic Fiddian-Green STILL WATER sculpture

. May 31, 2012

Nic Fiddian-Green (British b.1963- ) is best known among Britons for elevating equestrian fine art to its highest levels. Over his 30-year long career creating monumental sculptures of horses’ heads – a passion sparked when he first laid eyes on the Elgin Marble Selene Horse at The British Museum, Fiddian-Green has devoted his life to expressing “the beauty of a horse” in bronze, steel and lead.

Now his acclaimed STILL WATER sculpture has literally crossed the pond and a nearly twelve foot high horse’s head is on view at the newly expanded NATIONAL SPORTING LIBRARY AND MUSEUM (NSLM) in Middleburg, Virginia – a mecca for those who share Fiddian-Green’s horse passion. The hammered lead sculpture with copper rivets on an oak base is from a Limited edition, No. 1 of 5.

STILL WATER is the first in what Nic’s long time London dealer Gerry Farrell of SLADMORE CONTEMPORARY gallery (www.sladmore.com) says is a series of US installations planned for 2012.

Farrell says, “Nic Fiddian-Green expresses the majesty of a horse’s head in such a remarkably modern way, yet completely informed by his deep knowledge and respect for ancient art. It’s said that In the eyes of Nic’s horses you see pain, strength, wisdom, fear and more, eliciting a powerful and spiritual response in the viewer.”

National Sporting Library and Museum Board Member F. Turner Reuter, Jr., says, “The minute I saw Nic’s STILL WATER on display at The Sladmore’s stand at the International Fine Art & Antique Dealers Show in New York last fall I knew I had to get it for the NSLM. We are thrilled to be the first US venue to welcome one of Nic’s monumental works. It’s a tremendous draw to those visiting the Library and Museum to see such a noble equine work here.”

Reuter curated the opening exhibition of the NSLM, launched in October, 2011, with an exhibition based upon a book he wrote, “Animal and Sporting Artists in America.” His goal is to raise awareness of the importance of animal and sporting art as a reflection of American history and cultural life. “Americans and the British have long shared an admiration for the equine form,” he says.

The astonishing site of an outsized bronze or bronze and lead horse head is something residents or visitors to the United Kingdom have become accustomed to, although they continue to stir feelings of awe. Last summer Nic’s 30-foot high, 18-ton HORSE AT WATER became a much-loved landmark when it stood at Marble Arch, while a magnificent 35-foot tall Greek head of ARTEMIS beguiled onlookers at Trundle Hill on the downs overlooking Goodwood House and racecourse looking out to the Isle of Wight.

Outside London those invited to the Royal Enclosure at Ascot were greeted by another monumental Fiddian-Green horse sculpture as were those attending events at the Glyndebourne Opera House, Hurtwood and The Sladmore Gallery’s Bruton Place galleries in Berkeley Square.

Now it is America’s turn: The Sladmore has plans underway to place Nic Fiddian-Green highly-prized horse sculptures from coast to coast at a variety of American venues sure to attract crowds.

Farrell says, “I’ve heard Nic say that sculpture is not about technique, but about what the hand searches for. Nic’s horses are unique in that you get the feeling the horse is actually watching you. Their character and stance are choreographed to maximize their beauty. Nic is fearless in constantly experimenting with surface texture, volume, and size. He is also a perfectionist when it comes to coloration. He uses his hands and a mix of tools and chemicals to achieve surface effects that are nothing less than magical. His talent allows him to work the surface to vary the color and textures of each new work so that sometimes the horse’s patina resembles aged leather and other times it’s more like petrified ash or stone or mahogany that’s been polished with an expert hand.”

A thirty foot high HORSE AT WATER sculpture by Nic Fiddian-Green, the same one that graced Marble Arch in London, will travel through the streets of Liverpool to the Mersey docks in May to begin its voyage to New York. Its destination is a legendary thoroughbred race course outside Philadelphia. Parx Casino® and Parx Course (www.parxracing.com) in Bensalem, PA is the largest gaming complex in the area and welcomes thousands of visitors a day. It is operated by Greenwood Racing, Inc., British gaming entrepreneurs who have known Gerry Farrell and Edward Horswell of Sladmore Gallery for some time.

“We are thrilled about the forthcoming installation of Nic Fiddian-Green’s ‘Horse at Water’ sculpture at the Parx Casino® and Racing property,” said Bob Green, Chairman. “We strive to create an epic experience for all our guests and know that this majestic work will provide a powerful visual imprint that will enrich everyone’s visit to Parx”.

Nic Fiddian-Green grew up with horses in Southsea, where his Dad was in the Navy. After a foundation course at the Chelsea Art School Nic’s encounter with one of the ancient Elgin Marbles, the Great Horse of Selene, on a chance visit to The British Museum thirty years ago set him on his career path. He remains 100% focused on capturing the beauty of a horse’s head. He says it was a lightning bolt when he first saw the head of the horse of the Moon goddess, Selene, the most celebrated of the Elgin Marbles, from the Parthenon’s east pediment. He still views the fifth century B.C. sculpture as a benchmark, “For me it remains a lesson in balance, proportion and harmony.”

In fact, the very earliest example of art ever discovered in Britain was a horse’s head carved into a bone from 10,000 B.C.

Nic says, “The spirit and power of this noble creature, both servant and master to man, has been my long-time obsession. I’ve emerged from a recent harrowing encounter with life-threatening illness with new emotional resonance and resolve. I have a stronger, deeper, more contemplative vision in my new work.”

His devotion to the ancient ideal of a horse’s head makes him a classicist despite the contemporary nature of his work. For Nic it’s all about the head; there is no satisfaction depicting some celebrated thoroughbred or a patron’s favorite horse. Yet Nic and his wife Henrietta and their four children spend time each weekend on their hilltop farm in Surrey riding their own six horses, which have been models for his work for years. He even brought his horse, George, to The Sladmore in London for a special exhibition of his work last summer. This summer Nic is creating a monumental horse head for Greenwich Park, where the London Olympics equestrian events will take place.

Nic Fiddian-Green creates his horse heads from life using the methods of antiquity, scaling up from small clay models, and having them cast using the lost wax, or cire perdue method, not unlike bronzes created in the earliest days of Western art.

Farrell adds, “Nic Fiddian-Green is an artist of our time but obsessed with the classical Greek principles of grace, beauty, serenity, and harmony balanced with new sensibilities to create his unique, very modern sculpture. There is a ‘sense of encounter’ with Nic’s horses you don’t see with other works.”

The Sladmore, founded in 1965, is today one of the world’s leading art galleries. It specializes in the sale of fine bronze sculpture with two galleries and a sculpture garden all in the center of London. In its Jermyn Street gallery important bronzes by August Rodin, Aristide Maillol, Edgar Degas, Rembrandt Bugatti and Antoine-Louis Bayre are always on display. At Sladmore Contemporary on Bruton Place off Berkeley Square, a large stock of bronzes by artists working today is displayed including works by Mark Coreth, Geoffrey Dashwood, Sophie Dickens and Nic Fiddian-Green. An active publishing program of exhibition catalogues and monographs is also an important part of The Sladmore’s work. The addition of a private sculpture garden beside The British Museum provides the ideal showcase for a wide range of The Sladmore’s outdoor sculpture from macquette to monumental in scale. Each year The Sladmore exhibits at the world’s most important art fairs including those in Maastricht, London, New York and Paris. With an established reputation it has for many years advised major museums and both corporate and private collectors worldwide.

The National Sporting Library and Museum is dedicated to preserving and sharing the literature, art and culture of equestrian and field sports. Founded in 1954, the institution has over 24,000 books dating from the 16th – 21st centuries. The John H. Daniels Fellowship program supports the research of visiting scholars. The Museum, a newly renovated and expanded historic building on the Library campus, houses exhibits of American and European fine sporting art. The building was designed by architect Hardee Johnston and opened in 2011. Information is shared through exhibitions, lectures, seminars, publications and special events. The NSLM is open to researchers and the general public. Admission is free. For more information visit www.nslm.org or call 540-687-6542.

National Sporting Library and Museum
102 The Plains Road
Middleburg, Virginia 20117
Telephone: (540) 687-6542
Fax: (540) 687-8540 www.nsl.org

Category: Exhibition News

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