Tim Flach’s view

 

Closing in

 

When the London based photographer, Tim Flach, came out with his lavish tome, Equus, he was compared to some of the greatest equine painters of our times. Modest and unassuming, horses are just a chapter in Flach’s career – though they were always a part of his life.

 

By Camilla Alfthan

 

”Both my parents were passionate about horses. My father used to play polo, just as my brother and my mother grew up with horses and used to hunt. It was very much part of my growing up even if my parents weren’t together,” tells Tim Flach when we meet on Skype to chat about horses and photography.

 

Famous for his arresting images of animals – humanlike apes, owls, tigers, elephants, bats, dogs and horses, to name just a few  –  Flach’s studio is far from the Noah’s Ark one might expect.

 

He only has two cats, while the dog that he filmed for his homepage along with the hen and the fox belong to somebody else and he never really went riding.

 

”I was just a child trying to do things told by my step mother, mucking out and cleaning the stables, strewing them the hay; that physical kind of connection.

I think I was that kind of generation where the kids weren’t given too much opportunity, I was just there to help out. I wasn’t given riding lessons or any of that sort but I did have a lot of contact with the animals,” tells Flach who grew up in Sussex and later at an estate in Cornwall.

 

“I always enjoyed being around the horses. I think they are very sensitive to the energy around them and I think that I’m fairly quiet and fairly neutral and I have great respect for them.” 

 

“The people we rented the house from had a large library with images. The lady there was a world renowned botanist, so seeing all these wonderful creatures and the combination of being on an estate that had a lot of forest all affected the outcome of what I did.

 

I always enjoyed being around the horses. I think they are very sensitive to the energy around them and I think that I’m fairly quiet and fairly neutral and I have great respect for them.”

 

 

HORSES IN HISTORY

 

 

”One thing about photographing horses like the halter horses and the wild horses that I did so many of in Mongolia, is that it’s not necessary to ride them to be observant of them. There’s a difference between riding the horse as a pleasure horse and the history of the horse which is a lot less sympathetic to the animals’ interest.

 

We think of pleasure horses as extensions of pets. But they were used in situations where people would wear a horse down as they do a car today. So the sentiment we have today is hugely different than a generation back.

 

Horses are so deeply rooted in our culture with the the paleolithic case of Portugal and Spain. If we look to art so much is related to the equine subject because they were hunting the horse for food but they also knew the anatomy of the horse better than we do because they were dismantling it and using every part. Then equitation came about from the Corinthians to the Athenians..If you’re interested in culture you cannot separate the horse and us. It’s such a deep heritage, so rooted in our history.

 

Today you don’t see it so much in modern art  and that’s a huge change. And yet our language is still peppered with equestrian references whether we’re talking about horse power, or whatever; we’re constantly using words that are linked to the equestrian universe. We almost forget it as it is such an important part of our language.”

 

AUTHENTICITY

 

”Today, we’ve got more understanding of animals than ever before. We can watch rhinos at night, a hunting sequence of wild dogs until the final kill from some micro light.

 

We know animals better than we virtually ever have before. But, in actuality, we have never been more separated.

 

It’s a a conumdrum that may come to haunt us because as we separate ourselves from the horses in our mechanistic lifestyles who knows what it sets up? And because it is all happening so fast we can’t know the consequences of it.

My seven-year old son going to the i-pad and not integrating socially as much as previous generations would have done to go off and play football…We don’t know the consequences of this.

 

“We know animals better than we virtually ever have before. But, in actuality, we have never been more separated.”

 

In that sense, the role of the horse is not much different than before. Racing hasn’t changed much. It’s about pleasure that changes the dynamics. There’s the whole thing about the health benefits of owning a dog, or having that sense of freedom that a horse might offer.

There’s a general shift in our understanding of animals in our space.

We’re going through these changes that are unique to our generations. I don’t want to sound moralistic but certainly there are many challenges out there.”

 

Icelandic Lagoon

 

Continues..

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