Crazy Horses – British sculptress creates bronze horse figurines

Crazy Horses – British sculptress creates bronze horse figurines

North of Lisbon, the great Golegã horse fair takes place this week with celebrations reaching a crescendo on November 11, St Martin’s Day.
Attracting a wide cross-section of traders, breeders and riders it contributes to the region’s economy and is an excuse for a week of festivities. In the Algarve – to coincide with the ‘Feira Nacional do Cavalo’ – Galeria Côrte-Real presents an exhibition of equine interest by the renowned British sculptress, April Young.
Creating small scale to life-size bronze figurines she has been commissioned worldwide by individuals and corporate clients such as Morgan Stanley, Total Oil and Border Fine Arts.
In the UK, her sculptures have been exhibited at the Royal Academy and in major art fairs and shows. She is represented in Portugal exclusively by Galeria Côrte-Real near Paderne.
Since being a child April has been inspired by the equine form and an event such as Golegã’s horse fair provides the models for her sculptures. Located on the west bank of the River Tejo, Golegã is the capital of Portugal’s horse country.
The rich plains and riverside marshes provide verdant pastures for the breeding of horses and Ribatejo bulls. Coming together for the grand parade of São Martinho, traditionally dressed groomsmen, ‘cavaleiros’ and ‘campinos’, fraternise with Romany travelers. A bull run, similar in style to Pamplona, is followed by a chestnut feast, barbecued chicken and an alcoholic brew known as ‘Água-pé’.
Portugal’s breed of Lusitano horses has a long and important history vital to the defence of the realm. Close to Golegã, in the Vale de Santarém, the National Stud Farm continues to breed magnificent Lusitano animals and some are still used to refresh the bloodlines of Vienna’s famous Lipizzaner horses.
Significantly, the Lusitano owes its existence to the efforts of Portugal’s King, 500 years ago. Legislation brought in by Dom João II ensured that the saddle mule did not replace the horse.
At the turn of the 16th century, Portugal’s roads were pot-holed and pitted to such an extent that traveling by horse and carriage was exceedingly uncomfortable and at times impossible. A sedate and smoother ride on a saddled mule became the preferred means of transport and to keep pace with the demand breeders mated mares with asses rather than stallions.
Dom João –worrying about this trend and the country’s inability to defend itself, due to the lack of well-bred, noble horses – attempted to ban saddle mules from his kingdom. The ban only succeeded after a further decree was issued to forbid every blacksmith to shoe a mule on pain of death!
The King’s legacy is the beautiful Lusitano horse that is seen today; perfect in its proportions, temperament and delicate footsteps.
April is able to reproduce the animal’s spontaneous movement, often incorporating actual objects and transferring images onto the surface of her figures.
As noted by Pedro Côrte- Real, co-owner of the gallery, “she is able to exaggerate yet maintain the animal’s anatomical truth,” he says. “It is clear that her initial work involves stretching the clay to lighten and energise the horse’s form. Vigorously ‘pulling out’ the shape, she confidently expresses the animal’s raw energy.”
April’s horses can be seen at the new pop-up gallery Côrte-Real in Carvoeiro, opposite the beach and above the luxury estate agent, ‘Fine and Country.’ The main gallery is in the countryside on the outskirts of Paderne. It is signposted from Boliqueime, Ferreiras and the centre of the town. Open Thursday to Sunday from 11am until 5pm.
912 737 762
By CAROLYN KAIN
Photo: Bronze figure by April Young at Galeria Côrte-Real