Arthur Boyd: Landscape Ambiguous - an unbridled conversation piece

Following on from the post I wrote yesterday - Arthur Boyd: An Introduction to his Landscapes - I though I would open up an unbridled conversation about the Arthur Boyd landscape below titled Riderless horse, created in 1997, just two years before Boyd's death.

Arthur Boyd Riderless horse

Arthur Boyd, Riderless horse , 1997, collagraph print on paper, © Bundanon Trust

Why have I chosen this work to discuss?

I've chosen the Riderless Horse by Arthur Boyd to start a feature on the post where you can send in your comments about an art work. We would love you to join in an unbridled conversation where there will be no restraints on your interpretation, except of course for the way you express it, which must be within the bounds of decency!!

You can email your comments by doing a reply email to your morning post and Facebook users can utilise the comments box at the end of the post.

The Riderless horse for me conveys the ambiguity that is present in much of Arthur Boyd's work.

When first viewed, the strong vibrant colours embrace the observer but this is one work by Arthur Boyd where I do feel an outsider. In contrast, the works you saw yesterday, for me, allow the viewer to enter Boyd's landscape world as he created it. But not the Riderless horse - Boyd is telling us something, telling us something he wants us to understand. He wants us to stand apart from the work and give thought to his message. But what is it?

The riderless horse historically symbolises the fallen warrior, but was this the message Boyd was sending? And why does the horse appear to being dive bombed by white birds - that possibly symbolise peace? Or are the birds falling to Earth having suffered some catastropic event? And all against a setting sun over the barren landscape. Certainly an image that conveys much to think about and discuss.

In terms of the analogy to war, Arthur Boyd was conscripted during WWII but did not see active service as he worked much of the time in the cartographic unit in Bendigo, Victoria, which was housed in the Fortuna Villa we have showcased in some of our mailbags.

Arthur Boyd's paintings created during the Second World War reflect the personal turmoil he experienced at the time and his deep opposition to violence.2

What also strikes me about the Riderless horse is the layered landscape, the muli-coloured layered landscape which I find immensely appealing. Arthur Boyd's choice of colour is brave and bold but not unfamiliar to those of us who know and love this landscape. There is beauty in this barren land where the tones of the barren earth dominate, as expressed by Boyd.

And what of the subtle, pale touch of vegetation, quite unlike the usual audacious Boyd brush strokes? A further sign of destruction, or for me, perhaps evidence that there is life there to be found and nourished?

Is the Riderless horse a statement against violence? Is it a statment about destruction or hope? What do you think? Please let us know.

The Riderless Horse is a collagraph print which is made by glueing different materials to cardboard and creating a kind of collage. During the inking process the ink will rub off surfaces that are smooth or higher and stay on surfaces that hold more ink, at edges and at lower points thus creating the image.3

For those of you interested in Arthur Boyd you might like to read what is believed to be the only political interview with Arthur Boyd: Beneath the Landscape.

Watch out for our next unbridled conversation piece to get you thinking and wondering and don't forget - we would love to hear your opinion about Arthur Boyd's Riderless horse.

Please keep scrolling down the page and for Facebook users the Comment Box is at the end of the post.

In a few days we are going to continue on this theme of Landscape Ambiguous with a new painting by South Australian artist John Wylie.

Tomorrow we have a special celebration to acknowledge.


©① Arthur Boyd’s artworks are reproduced here with permission of the Bundanon Trust.

Bundanon Trust Bundanon Trust supports the development of arts practice across all disciplines through its artist in residence program; operates a residential education program for children and adults and presents a dynamic, on-site public program, including concerts and special events, open days and group visits. Bundanon Trust is a custodian of the Boyd family art collection, the historic Bundanon Homestead and Arthur Boyd's studio. Bundanon Homestead is open every Sunday between 10am-4pm. Riversdale is open to the public only for special events such as the Riversdale Concert Series. Please see the Bundanon Trust Website for more information.

1. Bundanon Trust (