While a wandering student at the Chelsea College of Art in London, Nic Fiddian Green was sent with his classmates to the British Museum in search of inspiration. He chanced upon the Elgin Marbles and was drawn to the horse of Selene, who was said to pull the chariot of the moon across the sky. The sight of it set him off on a journey to find the same perfection in sculpted equestrian form.
“It just completely absorbed me,” Fiddian Green says about the ancient sculpture, “and it became my vehicle for my emotion and expression.”
His own massive sculptures of horse heads now sit in private gardens, racecourses and public sites on four continents. One of his most famous horses stands nearly eight metres tall at London’s Marble Arch, peacefully balancing on just its upper lip as if drinking, amongst the rush of red buses and pedestrians.
“The busts represent the bond between man and horse,” says Fiddian Green, who believes that the horse is the one animal that has had the greatest effect on man’s destiny. “I hope they bring something of the beauty of nature to the city.”
A single bust can take Fiddian Green upwards of eight months, starting with clay models in his studio.
For the artist, the horse at water is an intoxicating vision of tranquillity, for a horse will only drink when it in a state of complete calm. The sculpture therefore imparts a sense of invulnerability to the viewer.
Though all of Fiddian Green’s horses begin their existence in the studio of his rural Surrey home, many have ended up in cities around the world. After a successful involvement in “The Art of the Horse” exhibition, presented by Christie’s in Shanghai in October 2014, one of Fiddian Green’s immense horse heads was installed at TaiKoo Place commercial complex in Hong Kong in March 2015, his first piece to find permanent residence in the country.
In a significant shift for the artist, who had previously worked from the ancient Greek ideal, Fiddian Green’s current work takes inspiration from the ancient Chinese masters. The Hong Kong bust, “Horse at Water”, is inspired by the horses of the Han and Tang Dynasties and stands at nearly five metres tall. The distinct cracks in the sculpture’s form are intended to represent the passing of time.
“I was invited to create my first interpretation for this site at TaiKoo Place to stand as a permanent reminder of the fragile past, an inspiration in the present, and a hopeful belief in the future for all those who may encounter this horse – the most noble of all animals – on their journey to and from their work,” says Fiddian Green.
He hopes one day to install an enormous horse head on the South Downs in Sussex, an angel of the south to complement Antony Gormley’s awe-inspiring “Angel of the North”.
As he did in 2014, Fiddian Green will be recreating his countryside studio in the Sladmore Gallery in London as part of the Masterpiece Art Fair. He will be based there – chisels, copper, dust and charcoal sketches – working and interacting with the visiting public from 10 June until 31 July 2015. Fiddian Green will also be showing an exciting new body of work, including pieces in bronze, lead and copper, and some smaller stone carvings.