Spirit Animal

This was my entry for the Milan Art Club. The theme was symbolism. We had to create a painting of our sprit animal and explain why we chose this animal and what it symbolised. The painting is 36x 24 inches, acrylic on canvas. It was stood out in the rain to match its mood.

  • I painted a Dartmoor pony. I live on the edge of Dartmoor where these ponies roam. This pony feels some sadness as she looks to the outside world. She is free to roam the moor but restricted as she is confined to stay on Dartmoor. These are gentle animals but strong, withstanding all kinds of weather.

  • Background: Since 2012 I have been campaigning for the Rohingya people. Despite best efforts we have watched a genocide unfold, reaching a peak of atrocities in 2017. Today 1 million of them are confined to the biggest refugee camp in the world in Bangladesh, where they are deprived of access to the internet, healthcare, education and the right to work. They endure extreme weather conditions living in very basic huts. My thoughts about the Rohingya genocide surface in my art.

  • Weather that is central to the picture is like that of a cyclone, too big and powerful to stop.

  • The pony looks out across a town. It could represent the people of the world or the Rohingya refugee camp with colourful plastic sheeting that roofs the huts. The red also represents villages burning, or blood. The colours are reflected on the body of the pony.

  • Front left of the painting is a Dartmoor tor. These are naturally formed rocks that protrude from the moor. They are something permanent that cannot be moved but look as if they are delicately balanced, as if they could topple over.

  • Behind the tor is another layered structure, maybe layers of ice melting, or a waterfall.

  • From the right rain is pelting down on the pony who stands and takes whatever is thrown at her, resilient.

  • Below strokes turn into a choppy dark sea. I thought of many Rohingya drowned at sea whilst trying to flee.

  • Whilst painting I thought about the Dartmoor ponies. Each year a number of them are rounded up, some are sold, some are shot. I wondered if the ponies grieve their losses.