The West

Art mimicks life for horse exhibition
Artists Chris Wiles and Pam Eddy with pieces they have produced for the inaugral Spirit of the Thoroughbred exhibition being. Picture: Bill Hatto/The West Australian

WA artists have stared into the eyes of some of the State's finest horses in a bid to bring their spirit to life in a unique collaboration with the horse racing industry.

Following visits to stables, studs and training venues during the past two months, 161 pieces have been produced by members of the West Australian Society of Arts as part of the free Spirit of the Thoroughbred exhibition which will be on display at Ascot racecourse on Saturday and Sunday.

The exhibition was commissioned during the Chinese Year of the Horse as part of a bid by the WA Racing Trainers' Association to broaden the appeal of the sport of kings to the wider community.

"We are hopeful artists will capture the spirit and essence of racing and our magnificent horses," WARTA president Michael Grant said.

"I am sure the general public will find much to admire among the 161works of art.

" We were keen to present our horses and publicise the industry we love in a different way, as seen by people not involved in racing, who could bring a fresh outlook concerning our horses and the way we interact with them."

Society vice-president Chris Wiles said the short time given to produce pieces for the exhibition and the fact that few of the artists had experience in working with horses had provided great, but rewarding, challenges.

"What is fascinating is that everyone started at the same time and had to paint thoroughbreds," Mr Wiles said.

"That's why, when you look at the paintings, you'll see that the geometry is so carefully done. Even looking at the size of the nostrils, because thoroughbreds have that flare of the nostrils and have that strong, distinctive head from their Arabic basis."

Mr Wiles said the society dated back to 1889, when it was known as the Willagee Sketching Club. The present society was incorporated in 1896 and has more than 140 members.

A $5000 prize has been offered for the pick of the exhibition, which will be judged by renowned NSW artists Barry and Lucy McCann. One piece will be donated to raise funds for injured jockeys.

The West Australian

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