Dom points out that Uffington is in Oxfordshire, not Wiltshire, which makes it very clear to me that I've been away from England far too long. I can't even think about England without yearning for it (I was going to write "longing in my soul" and can only imagine the flack I'd get for that) but there it is. Meanwhile, onto brighter and better things. I am not alone in loving Mark Wallinger's horse. Praise here from Mark Hudson in the Telegraph (click through for video, too):
"Where even 10 years ago Wallinger's horse would have been met with a media rumpus of the kind that used to greet every new Turner Prize – what does it mean? what's it for? – the man in the street now nods with approval at Wallinger's chutzpah. Where once modern art was an in-joke shared only by a tiny cognoscenti, now we're all in on it."
And from Melanie Reid in the Times:
Wallinger's brilliance is to choose a simple, figurative concept inextricably linked with British heritage. It isn't just any horse, it's a white one - horsey people would say grey - and a British thoroughbred too. The resonance of such a creature goes deep into British myth, tradition, literature and prehistory.
We have been here before. We are programmed to understand its beauty. As G.K. Chesterton wrote: “Before the gods that made the gods/Had seen their sunrise pass/The White Horse of the White Horse Vale/Was cut out of the grass.”
Horses represent many things: among them freedom, glory, dreams, power, the chance to ride the sky. So give this jaded nation of animal lovers, pony-mad little girls and betting-shop punters a giant white steed, and watch us gladly smile and whisper “wow” every time we see its ears come up over the horizon. Give us, in other words, renewal.