Tag Archives: Wales

Cometh the hour, cometh the horse….

To celebrate the Year of the Horse, the National Gallery, London, has posted “Whistlejacket” by George Stubbs, as its  Painting of the Month.

Whistlejacket, George Stubbs, about 1762

Whistlejacket, George Stubbs, about 1762

The National Gallery also has a  Chinese Zodiac Trail which explores the symbolism of animals in eastern and western traditions.

According to the Gallery’s zodiac trail, the horse is one of the most admired animals of the  Chinese zodiac. People born in the Year of the Horse are independent, value freedom, and are hard-working, adventurous, intelligent and successful. They embody the traits of a fellow creature who has accompanied us to the end of the world and, sometimes, back again…..

like Phar Lap

Phar Lap at Trentham Racecourse. Making New Zealand :Negatives and prints from the Making New Zealand Centennial collection. Ref: MNZ-2372-1/2-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23120509

Phar Lap at Trentham Racecourse. Making New Zealand :Negatives and prints from the Making New Zealand Centennial collection. Ref: MNZ-2372-1/2-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23120509

This photo was taken in 1931 before Phar Lap’s  trip to the United States. Not long after this date, Phar Lap died  in San Francisco. He is probably New Zealand’s most famous racehorse, renowned for his great heart and his speed and, of course, the winnings and joy he brought to many people, during the gloomy days of the Great Depression. Timaru, his birthplace, has an outstanding memorial sculpture  of Phar Lap.

Another famous New Zealand horse, perhaps less well-known than Phar Lap, is Bess (Zelma)  . New Zealand sent  thousands of horses to the First World War. Only four returned home. Bess was one of  the four. She was born in 1910, and served in Egypt in 1915, Sinai in 1916, Palestine in 1917, France in 1918, Germany in 1919, and was in England in 1920, before coming home to New Zealand in July 1920. She died , on duty, in October 1934.

This is the simple, but eloquent, memorial to Bess. It bears an Arabic inscription, as well as one in English.

Jock Phillips and Chris Maclean (top image, c. 1986), Powles collection; Imelda Bargas and Tim Shoebridge, 2010

Bess Memorial; Credit Jock Phillips and Chris Maclean (top image, c. 1986), Powles collection; Imelda Bargas and Tim Shoebridge, 2010

As part of New Zealand’s commemoration of the start of World War One, in 1914,  a hundred years ago , there will be a special Anzac Day service at the Bess Memorial, on
April 25 2014, 9 a.m. Forest Road (Off Parewanui Road), Bulls.

The service will honour Bess, and all the horses that didn’t come home, to their New Zealand pastures.  In addition, “The Friends of Bess are hoping to publish an information book on Bess for WW100, and to improve the Memorial to Bess site for better public access and protection from the elements if funding can be obtained.”

I like that, in the Year of the Horse, we have this special tribute taking place in honour of  the horses who travelled, with their human companions, on what must have been one of the strangest, and most terrible, adventures of their lives. The Good Steed   by Marcus Wilson tells the tale of the New Zealand Military Horse, from the angle of the horse, in The Anglo-Boer War and World War One. It is a story worth telling; worth remembering.

Another story which honours the nature of the horse, and looks at the world from the horse’s point of view,  is  Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Though written in 1877, it remains one of the best-selling books of all time. The 1915 edition of Black Beauty was illustrated by the artist  Lucy Kemp-Welch.  Lucy Kemp-Welch  painted horses in both peace-time and  in war-time. One of her horses-in-war paintings  Big Guns to the Front is displayed at the National Museum in Wales.

I can’t find an online image of that painting but, at our own Christchurch Art Gallery, there is a wonderful selection of artwork, featuring horses, collated for the Chinese New Year.     My favourite painting , in the collection, is one by Lucy Kemp-Welch, titled In the Orchard [Sunlight Through the Leaves] 1904-1905, which was acquired by the Art Gallery in 1932.

http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/collection/objects/69-564/

http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/collection/objects/69-564/ In the Orchard, Lucy Kemp-Welch 1904-1905

To me, this scene of mother and foal represents the apogee of the loving, loyal, peaceful,  feminine side of the horse.

How lucky we have been to have these beautiful creatures at our side, throughout history. Long may our shared story continue but, hopefully, with more love and understanding  on our part.  An understanding that, if we  develop greater empathy with our equine family , we will be better humans.

May you have a Happy, Successful, Year of the Horse.

If you would like to seek, or refresh, your inner horse, take a look at Cindy Knoke’s blog and her gorgeous post on the Free Range Horses of Patagonia  The spirit of the Year of the Horse is bound to soar within you when you see Cindy’s photos.

© silkannthreades

Connecting the World with Maps and Music

Today is the last day of  Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand. The main theme of the week is Connect which is one of the five ways of achieving, and maintaining,   Well-Being , for each and every one of us.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know how fascinated I am with connections and connectedness;   how I love  to see the weavings we make in the tapestry of our world. So, with the theme of Connect very much on my mind this week, here is another post dedicated to the silken threads, delicate stitches, the warps and wefts, the skilful hands and minds, that bind us together on the great work-in-progress that is life’s journey.

Remember the Atlas? What we used before Google Maps. Here is my copy of  Bartholomews Advanced Atlas of Modern Geography, Tenth (metric) Edition, published in 1973.

Tools that connect the world

Tools that connect the world

It was given to me, as a school prize, in my final year at high school, (presumably for Geography; the book-plate is missing, so I no longer know ).  It is a beautiful book and was, once, much used. Mostly, it sits idly on the bookshelf, these days, which is a shame because it is full of wonderful information and exquisite workmanship, every bit as fine as that which is found in a Gallery masterpiece.

The last map in the Atlas is of New Zealand, which seems an appropriate placement for a small country, almost at the end of the world. Here is where I live;  Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand, the World…….

Christchurch

Christchurch

Thanks to early settler, Charles Alured  Jeffreys (1821-1904) of Glandyfi, Machynlleth, Wales,

Machynlleth and Plynlimon and Cader Idris

Machynlleth and Plynlimon and Cader Idris

my city , supposedly, has the most street names of Welsh origin of any  New Zealand settlement. In the suburb of Bryndwr, we have the names Snowdon, Garreg, Plynlimon, Idris and Penhelig and Glandovey ( Glandyfi). And we  pronounce those place names in ways that no Welsh speaker would recognise. Curiously, the only residents of our city who pronounce Idris correctly, (so I am told), are those with Islamic or Coptic  backgrounds. They say “Id (t)ris” and we, of British ancestry,  say Aye tdruss. What the Cader Idris/Coptic/Islamic connection is about, I don’t know, but Idris is one of the   Ancient Prophets of Islam, and may also be Enoch of the Bible.

It is, perhaps, because I see  Welsh words on a daily basis

Plynlimon Park, Christchurch, is no Mountain

Plynlimon Park, Christchurch, is no Mountain

that my ears and eyes were alerted to the sounds and sights of Mike Howe’s blog, where Mike shares with us the true landscape of Wales; the landscape which our early Welsh resident, Mr Jeffreys, tried  so hard to impose on his raw, new homeland, Christchurch.

Here is Mike’s tribute to Carl Sagan, who like the Idris of Wales and Idris the Prophet was a philosopher and man of wisdom . The music is called Pale Blue Dot.

The images in the video clip are from Skomer Island which my Atlas says is here 🙂

Skomer Island

Skomer Island

Mike’s music may come from hands and heart, enfolding and unfolding the spirit of Wales, but, for me, his music travels; it has no boundaries. For me, some music is about a place or time, a memory or an emotion, but my favourite pieces are those that travel; pieces that are music for the journey.

Another of my favourite composers of  travelling music is Mulatu Astatke; this composition is called When am I going to get there? 

And now I have; got there; to the end of my post on connectedness. Has your Well-Being improved? If not, and my route around the world has been too long for you,  look to my side bar, and rest, whilst you listen to Mike’s soothing Time Stand Stills.

© silkannthreades