A few years ago Peter Zinovieff and I wrote a half-hour music and poetry performance piece about the 3,000 year old Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire. Our piece, called Horse, was commissioned for ‘Between the Ears’ on Radio 3, and recorded in performance at Sage Gateshead as part of the Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival (produced by Julian May). It’s a very unusual and dramatic piece. Its primeval music is derived from the clanks of the King Harry chain ferry in Cornwall. It has since been re-recorded and published as a limited-edition artist’s book and CD, with illustrations from a series of original prints by Olivia Lomenech Gill.
In my afterword to the book I write about the chalk figure and its setting as they appear around the time of the Winter Solstice. The relation of the figure to the winter sky, to ‘Dragon Hill’, and to the rest of the landscape around it in late December, seem particularly significant.
Peter and I are now working on an exciting proposal to develop a new performance of Horse – ideas which we’ll make public next year. We want to honour that Bronze Age figure and its ritual landscape, and to connect people back to them, through echoes of the Cretaceous sea, the dragon beneath it, and recollections from our deepest past.
While touching upon something really ancient, Horse is at the same time like nothing anyone has seen or heard before.
Please watch this space for further announcements.
‘A mysterious and moving interaction of sounds’ – Radio Times