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The Equestrian Gallery

Jay Boyd Kirkman - Ripon Races

Jay Boyd Kirkman - Ripon Races

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A racing friend introduced me to Ripon recently and this is the first completed painting from the course. Idea was to create a big-scale image in a small gem of a painting.  

Set in the tree-shaded Parade Ring as jockeys mount their rides before a race. The pillar-fronted Weighing Room, the heart of any racemeeting, stands to the right with the more workaday Stables seen beyond. 

The scene is simple; a row of buildings divided almost centrally by a tree over turf. It is the choreography of the figures which should create the sense of controlled action - well, mostly controlled on a good raceday. Generally, the viewer ought to feel that everything's headed to the right, toward the unseen exit onto the course itself. Naturally, the horses - four are seen - are the engine of activity; the visual jump from the foreground horse, looking straight at the viewer, right back to the grey in the stable, also head-on, is meant to subtly set the perspective. Meanwhile, the mounted horse moving right on the path and the more distant horse moving left create my usual sense at a new course of horses going every which way while I try to figure out what's going on. 

Though rarely in the headlines, Ripon seems to me one of those deeply-rooted racecourses with a dedicated crowd of supporters and a particular atmosphere of it's own. Overall, have tried to capture something of this here. Some of the figures are based loosely on officials & trainers - I think the figure in the doorway of the Weighing Room, in apron and with hands on hips, was the jockeys' valet. Specifically, should it be of any interest; the chap with the panama & cane is based on the trainer M W Easterby and the foremost jockey is in the silks of Miss Betty Duxbury whose horse Abbey Steps is the model for the main horse. By the way, the standing jockey in pale mauve silks is waiting impatiently for his late horse to arrive - tapping his whip on his boot while everyone else gets on with it. Idea is that the reluctant chestnut on the far left being hurried along by his groom is the culprit. 

Have used a study from the training grounds at nearby Middleham for the sky - Ripon only stage Flat racing during the usual Spring to Autumn season and they call it 'Yorkshire's Garden Racecourse', but there is a lot of big country up the road and the weather that comes with it.

Jay Boyd Kirkman

 Pastel on museum board, signed lower right, framed.

Size excluding frame: 6 1/8 x 10 inches (15.7 cm x 25.3 cm)

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