Sheila Rock’s unusual series of horse portraits, taken in black and white, have incredible depth and intensity. The series of photographs is titled Spirit of the Horse, inspired by the great European horse painters: Stubbs, Delacroix, Gericault, Herring, Franz Marc and others who painted lyrical and sensitive portraits of magnificent horses. Myths and legends surround the horse in many cultures. In China they expressed and symbolised unrestrained freedom. In Arabic literature they symbolised divine grace. In English and French culture, horses are expressed in romantic terms reflecting dreams and memories, especially of interest to the landed gentry who both owned horses and had the financial resources to purchase high art. These photographs were taken as traditional studio portraits, in a studio created on location at the stables, isolating the horses to make them appear regal and dignified.
Rock was born in the USA and educated at Boston University and the London Film School. She has lived and worked in London since 1970. She became an influential force shaping the look of creative magazines like The FACE magazine. Her editorial portrait and fashion work have appeared in numerous magazines, including: Time Magazine, Elle, Glamour, Rolling Stone, Architectural Digest, and the Sunday Times. Her book, Sera: the way of the Tibetan Monk, published in 2004, accompanied several international exhibitions including the Photographers Gallery, London. Images from the Sera series are in the permanent collection of the William Benton Museum of Art in Connecticut, USA. The Houston Fine Art Museum has acquired a Seascape portrait for their permanent collection. A number of Celebrity Portraits are in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
Featured Image: Sheila Rock, Horse No. 57, 2000, Silver Gelatin Archival Print, 60.7 x 50.8cm (24 x 20in.)