Uffington Horse Puts Poetry in Motion; Ancient Myth and Magic Collide in Horse, an Experimental New Work by Poet Katrina Porteous and Composer Peter Zinovieff, as TAMZIN LEWIS Learns

Article excerpt

Byline: TAMZIN LEWIS

THE Uffington White Horse, near Oxford, is a mysterious and slightly controversial beast. After much theorising, archaeologists have concluded the leaping figure is 3,000 years old. But what was it created for? And is it even a horse? Fertile ground then for a poet interested in history, myth and landscape. Katrina Porteous, who lives at Beadnell in Northumberland, has spent a year collaborating with her friend Peter Zinovieff on a sound piece commissioned by BBC Radio 3. Horse will premiere at this weekend's Free Thinking Festival of Ideas at The Sage Gateshead, which is bringing a host of big names to the venue including Foreign Secretary William Hague, author Margaret Drabble, psychotherapist Susie Orbach and - as Thinker-in-Residence - the Rev Dr Giles Fraser who recently resigned from his post at St Paul's Cathedral.

Katrina explains she was inspired by artist Mark Wallinger's proposal for a monumental white horse which won an Angel of the South competition in 2009.

"I saw the proposal, which is very realistic, and I thought the horse looked very static," she says. "I decided to do a piece about the spirit of a horse rather than its appearance.

"This made me remember the Uffington horse from many years ago. It doesn't look much like a horse but it does look like the spirit of a horse."

Katrina first visited the late Bronze Age steed, which lies near prehistoric track The Ridgeway on the Berkshire Downs, as a child.

She says: "I was obsessed with horses, like many little girls, and, aged seven, I begged my parents to go on a school trip to see the Uffington horse. When I saw it I was very disappointed."

Returning to Uffington as an adult, her views of the stylised horse were rather different. …

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