In Horse at Water
, Nic Fiddian Green captures an intimate moment of silence and contemplation. Poised balletically on a plinth- the shape of the horse’s head resembles the striated muscles of a ballerina’s foot au point - Fiddian Green offers a portrait that is at once still and alert, graceful yet strong, figurative yet abstracted. The effect can be described as one of syzygy, meaning the connection and balance opposites. This is perhaps a reason why Horse at Water
is one of Green’s most popular subjects that he has returned to and been re-commissioned for throughout his career.
Born in Ireland in 1963, Fiddian Green gained a foundation degree from Chelsea College of Art, before studying Sculpture at Wimbledon College of Art and latterly gaining an Advanced Diploma in Lost Wax Casting from St Martin’s School of Art. Fiddian Green then established a bronze foundry in a converted sheep shearing shed in Wintershall, Surrey where he continues to live and work. In 1992 he opened a further foundry in Gozo after reciving a significant commission for work there. This early commission in Gozo is indicative of the international appeal of Fiddian Green’s work. Examples of his oeuvre
, typically, but not limited to, monumental bronze equine subjects, can be seen in private and public collections in the UK, Australia, France, Hong Kong, Italy and the United States. Notable examples include his 2011 work Still Water
, a major public attraction at London’s Marble Arch and his 2014 commission of Horse at Water
for the TaiKoo Palace in Hong Kong.
In 1983 Fiddian Green first encountered the Elgin Marbles at the British Museum. In particular, he was struck by the Selene Horse, a remarkably well preserved fragment from the Elgin Marbles, which would become the foundational inspiration throughout his career. Fiddian Green saw the works as embodying the most refined ideals of Greek and Classical Art. Indeed he later reflected that ‘capturing the skill, vitality, balance and beauty, so evident in these Greek carvings is my continued aim’. In addition, like the sculptor Auguste Rodin (1940-1917) who had been seen the Elgin Marbles on a visit to the British Museum a century before, Fiddian Green was inspired by the fragmentation of the marbles. Parallels can be drawn between Rodin’s practice of exhibiting isolated cast body parts or sculptures with pieces missing in the 1880s and the intentionally fragmented quality of Fiddian Green’s work. For example, in Horse at Water
we are presented with only the animal’s head and the disjointed line at the top of the form suggests a break from a larger phantom body.
Fiddian Green’s use of the lost wax technique of bronze casting also has roots in antiquity. It is notable that many of the casts are undertaken by the artist himself and the riveted, stricken and beaten surface of the bronze, which results in the sculpture’s tactile surfaces are created by hand by the artist Colour is also of central importance to Fiddian Green’s work. He applies chemicals such as potassium polysulphide to create expressive and organic patination.
Fiddian Green’s intimate engagement with his work extends to his practice of sculpting from life models. In his house in Wintershall he keeps stables and has frequently remarked upon the inspiration that each individual horse has upon his practice. Indeed, the extent of Fiddian Green’s relationship with the horses was demonstrated when he brought his favourite model ‘George’ into the Private View of a 2017 exhibition.
While Fiddian Green’s subject and medium have roots in antiquity his work transcends the Neo-Classical. In Horse at Water
he can be interpreted as combining an archaic subject matter with expressive patina, emotional directness and a visual language, which emphasises curvilinear forms and shapes to create a work that is self-consciously modern.