Chalk Hills White Horses, by Angus Haywood
Hard casebound in green Wibalin, Copper foil. – ISBN 978-1-909660-68-7 – £22.95
128-Pages of photographs and artwork of the Hill figures and White Horses of southern England. Available now signed by the author, and from independent bookshops from January 2017.
Excerpt from the Introduction……
A surprise to find the words when photographing the White Horses and Hill-figures in southern England…
Leucipotomy, noun, the art of carving white horses on chalk upland areas.
From the Greek, Leuci – white, hippo – horse, tomy – the cutting or excising of.
Gigantotomy, noun, the carving of hill figures.
The craft is far more ancient than the Greek culture that gave the words.
The White Horses and Hill figures are never quite on their own. Whatever the season someone in
our landscape will be aware of one in the corner of their eye, perhaps in the far distance through
the window of their cottage, above or below them when walking downland and upland, or looming over
them from the other side of the valley. Like many, they first came into my own conscious when young, in
Dorset, intermittently glimpsing the Fovant Badges or the Cerne Abbas Giant framed through the glass of
the family car as we skimmed past the flickering hedgerows and trees, or suddenly ahead, after the curve
in a road, in stark view.
Becoming familiar again with them through photography, their individualism within their own
landscapes separates them clearly for me. Climbing up and leaning into their slopes each week, their
positions showed me they were certainly chosen for their drama, the focus in the bowl of a hill range,
the steepest convex of a hillside, or the crown facing skywards on open Downs. Stretching up, treading
around closely, up and down their steep-terraced slopes, an appreciation is given of their physicality. It is
like peering up close to a gallery painting, to study the artist’s brush strokes through the oil-thick paint,
the texture of the underlying canvas board, the pin nails and joints of the surrounding wood frame. As
with linocuts, engravings, woodcuts, charcoal drawings, and oils, the Hill-figure artworks have variety in
their media. Bright white chalk, tamped into grass turf trenches, or grey gravel, or smoothed concrete, or
laid white tiles, and their wood plank battens staked in around them, holding back the earth to keep their
Treading up close to the figures they are curious in their giganticism. The turf cut and the earth
dug, the shovelled tonnes of chalk, stone, or cement, their place set in the larger landscape and sky. They
seem to me to express human labour, a communal agreement of effort over the centuries to create and
maintain. Villagers and farmers, soldiers, housewives and children, academics and artists, friends. Recent
archaeologists have found The White Horse of Uffington’s minimalist curves and trenches have been
continually scoured and tended by communities across its whole 3000 years.’