Australian photographer Grace Costa has had a life long love of horses and in particular their character. In her latest work titled ‘Horse’, Grace captures their unique presence.
When I think of horses I think of family. As youngsters we all rode horses. No matter where we lived we had horses – they’ve come and gone as a constant throughout my life.
When I was a kid I loved anything with horses on it, my bedroom was filled with horse pictures and horse paraphernalia; I was obsessed with them. Like many other young girls, I had a passion for them, except I was fortunate enough to own one. At that time though, I had a fear of them too, because I didn’t understand them.
After gaining an Advanced Diploma of Commercial Photography, I became an official photographer for the Department of Defence, and had the honour of photographing the Royal Military College Queen’s Colours Parade featuring Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, during her Diamond Jubilee tour of Australia.
Horses still remain my passion, and photographing them is my dedication, if you will, to how I see and feel about horses. I haven’t tried to tell stories about the horses’ lives, but I have tried to tell a story about the horse’s character. I love the still horse, and that is what I’m exploring in my latest work titled ‘Horse’. It’s not about the movement; when it is standing still is when it’s showing its presence. That’s what I’m attracted to and these horses are definitely showing their presence and their character to me.
I chose the Mount Stromlo site to photograph ‘Horse’ as it supported the theme about presence and also brings a horse out of its natural environment, which is a theme I will continue to explore.
Stromlo is a ruin of an old telescope observatory which was part of the Australian National University. It burned down in the Canberra firestorm in 2003. The site has an echoic ambience and oddly enough it still feels like a room. When you walk in, it has the entrance, but the windows are without glass and the roof is gone.
In that space I imagined a horse blending into its environment, an unnatural environment. So when I put a grey horse in there against the concrete background, I could explore the idea of horses blending into unnatural worlds.
And it showed me that I could use the same space with different horses and challenge how each of them interacted within the space. I wanted different horses, different breeds and different personalities to explore within this unique space
‘Fantasy’ is a word I think of with horses, they are kind of like a fantasy object. They are mysterious, I love their shape, the outline, the form, I love their natural behaviours and why they act the way they do in the wild. That’s why I photographed them unbridled, in their stark shape; it’s the thing that makes them recognizable as a horse. It’s that outline that is unmistakable.
I was never meant to be an amazing horse rider, or trainer like my father is, but my calling was to photograph horses, in my way.