Golden American Saddlebred


I got this horse in a mixed set of plastic animals at a $2 shop. He stands 14cm high and is slightly unbalenced, requiring a firm bend to his rear legs to get him to balence. He has become something of a muse for me, summing up the blend of fantasy, romance, deceit,  history and genetic manipulation that forms the basis of our relationship with the natural world.

The latest incarnation of my muse, curently in process, is to be a lifesized version sewed from tulle. To understand my horse more fully, and to find out what size to make him, I decided to seek out his bloodline. after extensive research i have concluded that he is a Golden American Saddlebred. Standing upright he would be 16 hands (1602mm). rearing up he is 3m in height, a 21:1 scale from my model.

The Oklahoma State University Breeds of Livestock, Department of Animal Science, describes the Golden American Saddlebred thus:

What does one look for in a Golden American Saddlebred? First and foremost, is conformation. A beautifully shaped, well-proportioned head is a must. The ears are small, alert, and placed at the top of the head. The neck is long, and well-arched, with a smooth clean throatlatch. The eye is bold, bright, and intelligent. Well-sloped shoulders and sharp withers well above the height of the hips is characteristic. The croup is long and level with the tail coming out high, and the hind quarters are well muscled to the hocks. The back is short and strong. The long legs are straight with long sloping pasterns that are so necessary for an easy, well cushioned ride. The shallow, full-sprung rib cage make the barrel of the Saddlebred more rounded than in other breeds. Height is generally from 15 to 17 hands and weight from 1000 to 1200 pounds.

The complete picture of Golden Saddlebred should be one of refinement, smoothness and strength. Coloring can vary from cream to copper and all shades in between. However, the ideal color is that of the untarnished gold coin. Eyes must be brown or dark. White markings on the face and legs are allowyyed, but no spots. Mane and tail should be white and purity is desirable.

Avoiding Mastery: the paintings

Avoiding Mastery: Whitespace Contemporary Art 2014 

Mastery, according to the Webster dictionary is knowledge and skill that allows you to do, use, or understand something very well and a state of having attained complete control of something.

My conundrum as an artist is that, whilst ‘understanding something very well’ might seem an appealing and mature virtue, its close association with having ‘complete control of something’ raises a warning flag that the cul de sac of orthodoxy lies in wait.

In art, to understand something so well as to control it runs the risk of remaking and refining something that you already know, and that your audience also knows and recognises; a closed circuit of mastery and applause. Less prone to success, but arguably more interesting is the strategy of avoiding the possibility of control, deliberately pursuing unknowing, cultivating areas of non-skill and embracing unpopular and little understood vernaculars as a vehicle for art making.

To put it more simply, maybe I think of art as a half wild pony, rather than the dressage mount. Which is not to say that there is anything wrong with dressage; I just prefer a little more excitement.


Dreaming of Iccarus, 2013 900 x1500mm acrylic on board
Dreaming of Iccarus, 2013
900 x1500mm
acrylic on board
True Romance 900 x 900mm acrylic and laser transfer on board
True Romance
900 x 900mm
acrylic and laser transfer on board
The Watcher II 900 x 900mm acrylic on board
The Watcher II
900 x 900mm
acrylic on board
Pink Pop Remix 900 x1500mm acrylic and laser transfer on board
Pink Pop Remix
900 x1500mm
acrylic and laser transfer on board
L.O.V.E. 2013 900 x 900mm acrylic on board
L.O.V.E. 2013
900 x 900mm
acrylic on board

Cupboard @ Cosset

My local cafe makes excellent coffee. They also operate as an exhibition space with the pragmatic title Paper/Cupboard. the wall space is dedicated to ‘paper’, while ‘cupboard’ is a small glass-fronted cupboard in the art deco cabinet that serves as the cafe counter. I have a Cupboard installation opening TOMORROW!



a sneak preview of my Cupboard installation:

All The Pretty Horses installation detail
All The Pretty Horses installation detail












Paper Cupboard has an eclectic and interesting program, which can be viewed on

if you want to go there the address is Cosset, 1087 New North Rd, Mt Albert, Auckland.




new drawings

After a lengthy silence I have returned with some drawings developed from the Flower Power/ animals debate I have been having with myself.  These are A3 sized ink and water colour drawings made for a group show at Kobo Chika, my gallery in Tokyo.

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there is no retirement village for obsolete warhorses

sock pony 2011
sock pony 2011

I have finally finished a few of my sock ponies; it has been a long road. I have been meticulously painting the expanding foam, a tedious and awkward process that has allowed me ample time to reflect on the ironic inverse proportion of labour involved.  The making is quick and haphazard, involving a sock, a stick, a can of expanding foam and a handy bit of lawn. The painting is slow and careful and involves masking and colour mixing and multiple layers of gesso and paint. All for what? So they look like they just happen to be coloured that way. So they look like a pop inversion of the cool grunge-lo-fi thing. So they look like plastic fresh off the shelf.

Now that I have finished a few of them and have had time to look up from my third coat of ultra gloss orange paint I have been thinking further about what they have turned out to be. I have been reflecting on my continued interest in hobbyhorses; I have been drawing them and making them for some years now (see my archive ponies and horses).

My interest in them is twofold – on the one hand the hobbyhorse is a conveniently abbreviated shorthand for the horse, the manifestation of desire for the ideal horse rather than the actual horse with its messy physicality. On the other hand they are discomfortingly close in appearance to the head on a pike, the archaic King’s public warning against transgression. A warning the horse and myriad other beasts could well have heeded before signing up for a domesticated world; there is no retirement village for obsolete warhorses and no guarantee of grassy pastures for those who trade their service, or the meat on their bones, for a place in the new kingdom.

I am quite interested in this relationship between humans and domestic animals. Some time ago at a party a vegan acquaintance was passionately extoling to me the injustices of honey harvesting as I discretely fanged into a mince savoury, thinking to myself what a disaster it would be for our farmyard friends if the story got out and everyone became vegan. What would become of them? Maybe we would be too gracious to kill them, but the economy of needing to plant a lot of beans would undoubtedly preclude us allowing them to breed. They would, in a single generation, become obsolete, a few lonely individuals relegated to zoo-parks as relics of the folly of our forebears.

The way I look at it animals can be roughly divided into three groups – the untameable, the edible and the friendly. The untameable have said no thanks mister, we will look after ourselves. The edible – pigs, cows, chickens sheep et al – have opted for evolution over lifespan. The third group, the companions, have opted for lifestyle over genetic dignity. At this point in history it does seem that the domestic animals have taken the winning punt, those we have no economic or sentimental use for are becoming scarce. As for the domestic beasts – as long as we are eating meat and drinking milk they are off the endangered list – but at what cost? Certainly at the cost of physiological independence, these animals have co-existed with humans for so long they have lost the ability to survive outside of our husbandry. Some have even lost the ability to support their mature body weight (meat chickens, so I hear).   The trade-off for consumables is life span and, depending on how animals think about this, which is difficult to gauge, life quality versus plenitude of food and guaranteed species continuation.

For the companion, such as the dog, the contemporary horse and to some extent the cat (though the cat always seems to have a bet each way and is happy to step back into the wild as required) the stakes are somewhat different. Longevity and luxury are the goal and it seems autonomy and dignity are the sacrifices. There is the risk of being breed into increasingly obscene and unsustainable body shapes. But on the up-side is the more unsustainable your body shape the more pampering you are likely to be showered with, so it is not all bad. In fact it is probably great. Being one of those handbag-dogs would be heavenly, even if you could not breath through your nose and had to wear a silly little jacket.

kiss and make up – best tell him how you really feel

I thought that as I got older and more mature I would react with more grace and understanding when my beloved crossed that oh-so-fine line between funny and desperately wounding. But no, it seems I have if anything regressed and now say, or at least depict on paper, what i really feel.

this makes quite a nice little kiss and make up card, not sure if i will give it to him or not.

kiss and make up card, front
kiss and make up card, inside