The artist

Notebook

 David Bailey with Salvador Dali in the 1970s. “I’m only interested in real photography, not in anyone thinking they can do it because they can’t.”  

His striking fashion shots defined the pages of Vogue during the Swinging Sixties. Yet, David Bailey hates being called a mere photographer. For the National Portrait Gallery in London he exhibited some of his best works. 

By Camilla Alfthan

YOU BEEN AROUND for over half a century. Is the exhibition a way for you to look back? That’s for people who are bored with what they’re doing now. I’m looking forward to the moment. I’m finding stuff from the past but I never look back.

Were there some highlights that you wanted to put forward? No, I just wanted to make an entertaining exhibition. Superficial people hang on to the Mick Jaggers and the Kate Moss because they are probably the only ones they know or can relate to. I’ve got headhunters and cannibals from New Guinea, starving kids from Sudan.  I’m curious of people that haven’t been touched by outside civilisation. I don’t think they’re more pure than us, the human race is not pure, then we would have died out a long time ago.

You once said fashion was the only place to be creative. Is was the only place you could get paid and be creative. Sort of creative.  I haven’t done fashion since the 1980s. I do celebrities, people with talent. I’ve never been interested in making money, I always did what I thought was right. Sometimes I do things for charity. The only time I’ve compromised is when I used to direct commercials. That’s an industry, what I do is an art.

“If Jesus Christ came back now he couldn’t get cruxified because we don’t have capital punishment.”

Though art has become quite commercialized. It was always like that. Who sponsored the Italian rennaissance? The Church or the Medicis. The National Portrait Gallery asked me to do it and it’s sponsored by Hugo Boss, they both get something out of it.

Everyone is making pictures these days, has it changed anything? Since the Brownie came in 1900 people have taken pictures. Everyone can do what you do now, or what I do or what Picasso did, so it is about whether you want to do it or not. It’s not because someone comes along with a new gadget that it’s going to change anything. You’ve got 300 million people taking the same picture on Instagram. What’s creative about that, what’s that got to do with your imagination and your connection with the two things?

Michelangelo Antonioni’s classic, Blow Up from 1966 was inspired by you.. Blow Up was just another film, it wasn’t a great film, Seven Samurais was. Also, I’m not a photographer, I’m an artist.  I paint, I make sculptures, it’s just a different way of using my imagination and my curiosity.

Are you still as curious as you were then? Yes, of course, I’m more or less the same since I was in my 20s. I would have been the same if I was born in the Rennaissance or in Rome 100 AD, it’s seing things as they are to me. “Be true to yourself”, as Shakespeare probably said first, it’s a good quote.

How important was the zeitgeist of the 1960s – where do think you would have been today? Everybody you’ve ever heard of in history came at the right time otherwise you wouldn’t have heard of them. If Jesus Christ came back now he couldn’t get cruxified because we don’t have capital punishment.


With Jerry Hall and Helmut Newton at the footsteps of the Croisette.

Some people are envious of your lifestyle.. That is just silly people, they couldn’t take the pace, they couldn’t work like I do. I work all the time, I never stop working. I get up about six and I go to bed about two more or less everyday. I’m working on bronzes, sculptures, silk screens, paintings, I’ve painted since I was three. It’s something I do. Some people make coffee, others make things.

So when did you have time for all the women? I’ve been with the same woman for thirty years. All my ex-wives are my best friends. It’s common sense, I don’t see how you can be with someone for five years and then not like them, then they must be morons.

Do you still photograph them? I’m doing one tomorrow. And I did one yesterday. My current wife and tomorrow I’m doing my previous wife. It’s just a coincidence. It’s another day, another time, it is not revisiting, I don’t have a time machine.

And self portraits? Only to stop some boring photographer coming around, spending three hours taking an ugly picture when I can spend two minutes doing an ugly picture myself.

Do you admire some photographers? I’m only interested in real photography, not in anyone thinking they can do it because they can’t.  Cartier Brésson, Walker Evans, Helmut Newton, Bruce Weber…there’s lots of great ones and there’s even more who just take pictures.  Anyone can take a picture and anyone can make a drawing, by the way. Their drawing is far more interesting than their terrible photographs on Instagram because the drawing tells you more about their personality.

What’s on your walls at home? Mostly Damian Hirst and Irving Penn. But not my own things. It’s bad enough I have to make them, I don’t want to sit and look at them everyday. There’s nothing worse than copying yourself.

“You’re either born with an edge or you’re not.”

But do you rework the same motifs when you paint? Yes, that’s normal. Recently it’s all been based on the Annunciation which is probably the worst painting Leonardo ever did. I like the story, I like the myth of some angel coming down and telling Mary that she’s about to have a baby – that must be quite an emotional chock for her.

Did your background – coming from the working classes  – give you a greater artistic freedom? No, I think it was probably a great disadvantage. You couldn’t even talk to those people in the class system the way it was in England in the 1950s. They wouldn’t talk to you if you had a bad accent. It was almost like the caste system in India. You can’t know it if you didn’t experience it. I was lucky, I was also an dyslexic which gave me a edge on lots of educative fault.

It pushed you to do what you’re doing? Probably, yes. You’re either born with an edge or you’re not. I didn’t go to university to get dumb. The school system stinks.

So the school of life is better? I think that’s the source of all the bullshit in life, most people don’t have a chance because they’re too busy feeding their family.

But hasn’t  technology changed the way you work? Not really, it hasn’t changed since Talbot invented photography as we know it today. I have a 13th century house in Devon in Dartmoore and I have studios and darkrooms there so I was printing on Christmas Day making images. Whenever you do art, you have to be completely dedicated, you have to be ruthless and do what you want to do otherwise you shouldn’t do it. You have to make decisons whether it’s having a nice, boring life in the country with ten kids or being lonely doing what artists usually do.

What are you working on now? Some silkprints, three books on East End are coming out, three or four books for Taschen, a couple of exhibitions…We’re doing it all the time. I’ll probably do some bronzes soon.

How many books did you publish? I think about 40 if I don’t count the catalogues. It’s like people saying how many models did you sleep with. If you have to count obviously it’s not many. I’ve lost count.

Was it a hundred? Bloody hell, no, it wasn’t a tv game show.

The world has changed a lot since you started..If I was a Marsian and came to earth I’d say, what a strange lot of people they are. One half are killing each other and the other half are watching football on TV.  Politicians love TV and football because it’s the opium of the people. It’s not a philosophical view of the world, it is common sense. We’re the most threatening species because of over population. There’s too many of us, that’s why you got so many wars. Forget the Ferraris – there’s too many people in the world and that’s why there’s so much pollution.

But you have three kids. It had nothing to do with me, I was being generous to my wife, it was her idea.  I like people once in a while. I’m a bit like a buddhist, I like the person next to me. Less to deal with. ©

 

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Swiss with a swish

Notebook

Designer Alfredo Häberli has created a Swiss Gesamtkunstwerk with the best of the best from his own home country.

By Camilla Alfthan

THE SCENE of this contemporary space is situated in the outskirts of Copenhagen in the residence of the Swiss embassy – a 19th century house facing the sea which is inhabited by Benedikt Wechsler; an ambassador with a penchant for sports and modern design. Dressed in tailored suits and matching bowties he cycles to meetings on a renovated Swiss bicycle from the forties, complete with batteries. A breath of fresh air has also blown through the formerly conservative residence which has been turned into the coolest home on the block. The most iconic piece of furniture is perhaps Ubald Klug’s creme coloured Sofa Terrazza from 1972 which is juxtaposed with an asymmetric coffee table made of fake granite. Its’ hedonistic design of the seventies evokes images of the pop culture of the epoch.
“I received a call from Bern saying that the sofa is not embassy like. I had to reassure them that the ambassador does not smoke pot. If I did not have some humour I would not be doing this,” tells Alfredo Häberli with a laugh.

Ubald Klug’s not very embassy like Sofa Terrazza is in for a revival. In the adjoining room Frank O. Gehry’s cloud shaped lamp from Vitra hovers over the dining table.

As the curator of the project he imposed an important rule : All interiors had to be designed or produced in his native Switzerland and of the very best quality.

“I could not buy textiles just because they were inexpensive or choose a furniture cover because it was practical.  At first I put a lot of pressure on myself, thinking that the Swiss design had to stand up to the Danish masters such as Wegner and Jacobsen which seemed an impossible task. But then I looked at contemporary design and I realized that Switzerland is doing better than the Danes. Our design is stronger,” he says.

Traditionally, the Swiss style is rational and functional. Colours are muted and the furniture is made using as little material as possible which is often aluminium.    “It is a little cold and not very cosy if you don’t count the wooden chalets in the mountains. We don’t have the hygge of Denmark,” Häberli explains.

“At first I put a lot of pressure on myself, thinking that the Swiss design had to stand up to the Danish masters which seemed an impossible task. But then I looked at contemporary design and I realized that Switzerland is doing better than the Danes. Our design is stronger”

As a Swiss born in Argentina Alfredo Häberli prefers colors and warm material such as wood and velvet. Instead of the usual white walls, a Scandinavian classic, he painted each room in different pastel colours and picked design favourites from Swiss companies such as Vitra. He also selected things from his own studio including his iconic Moreso chairs and the humouristic Jill Tube which is made of aluminium tubes wrapped in knits.

Benedikt Wechsler in his Swiss surroundings which include Häberli’s elegant Moreso chairs and photographs from Fotostiftung Schweiz.  Ph. C.Alfthan

As a design project the embassy is a first of its kind.

“Design is a cultural statement. In Denmark and Finland it was always used to market the country but we’re still not quite there though we have good designers and very good architects,” says Häberli who also included the garden in his Gesamtkunstwerk, filling it with Swiss furniture from different epochs. On the terasse there’s Hans Coray’s Landi chair from 1939 with polka dotted holes and another sculptural chair is Loop of 1954. Together with the eternit furniture on the lawn which absorb the heat of the sun they are testaments to the longevity of Swiss ingenuity. ©

Humour, a dash of colour and shoes (for the Swiss brand, Bally) are a part of Alfredo Häberli’s signature designs.

 

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Alex Thomson’s

Notebook

Sailing has never been faster, more expensive or as technological as it is now. But at the end of the day, it’s still about adventure and a human endeavour, tells solo sailor Alex Thomson.

By Camilla Alfthan

 

IT WAS THE SAILING LEGEND, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who taught the British yachtsman to navigate with the moon and the stars. Sir Robin had invited the 23-year old on an expedition to Greenland as his first mate only a few months before the beginning of his iconic Clipper Race which Alex Thomson would win as the youngest skipper ever.
Since then, Thomson has broken several world records, and competed in three Vendée Globes; the Everest of the Seas which was created in the spirit of the Golden Globe; the first non-stop solo race round the globe via the three capes, Good Hope, Leewin and the Horn created in 1968. Of its nine sailing pioneers, Knox-Johnston was the only one to complete the journey after an exhausting 313 days at sea. Today the boats have evolved enormously. When Alex Thomson finished the latest edition of the Vendée Globe it took him just 74 days despite the fact that he was sailing with a major handicap.

“On day thirteen the foil broke, but I still had to go around the world.
That was really the story of the race to me,” tells the 43-year old sailor aboard his HUGO BOSS boat during a visit to Copenhagen. The foil is still missing but he has a crew of three people which is a major luxury considering that he was all alone around the globe. While several competitors abandoned the race for various reasons, quitting was never an option.
“It’s about your goals and about staying positive. If your foil breaks it means your not going to win so you’re not motivated. So you have to change your goals. ‘I can’t win, I probably won’t finish and I’m lucky if I stay in the top ten.’ Then you have to adjust your goals to make them hard but achievable, so that you reach your goal.”
Part of all this was about how do you remain happy?
“It’s not pleasant and I have a huge handicap – a broken foil. It sounds corny. But I genuinely feel that if you walk around with a miserable face you’re probably going to be miserable. But if you walk around with a smile on your face you’re gonna feel a lot more positive. Many sports people like me strive for the ultimate succes because they think that is what is going to make you happy. But I think its the other way around. Being happy is much more likely to get you through to your succes. That’s how I tried to spend my time even if I wasn’t happy at all – I was really pissed off!”

Alex Thomson and his team had three goals in the Vendée. The first was to finish, the second was the podium, the third was to win. “We didn’t really know how good the boat was. I just had to change my mind set and learn to sail it differently. The boat sailed with a lot more lean, so I had to push a bit harder to try to try and keep up. I told myself ‘What would be more positive than winning the race now, that would really make a story’. I tried to look at things in a positive light.”

At lot has changed since the beginnings of solo racing. Now people can follow you daily online.
About 200,000 people watched me and it was really not about the technology. It’s about adventure and human endeavor; its an amazing story. One of the great things we can provide is content. We’re all so starved with content and as long as you can provide something vaguely interesting people will want to watch it and follow it like a football match.

At one point you looked rather scared when you were filming during a storm at night.
Part of it is conveying what it is really like. And in that scenario when it is dark outside and the boat is going very fast it’s quite a challenge.
When you go downstairs it’s pitch dark and the noise is extreme, you know there’s no one who can save you if something goes wrong. You freak out. You’re scared, your brain pumps adrenaline into your body. I wanted to convey what it was like; how I felt.
I have some techniques to be able to deal with the stress and making the videos helped.

“People think we have to be crazy to do it but it is really the opposite.”

They went directly from my phone to the internet, without any editing. They create a huge following and people then write comments that my people send to me. So I inspire them with what I’m doing and they inspire me by their reaction to it.
With my sports psychologist we have a number of techniques to deal with the extreme situations. One of them is the helicopter view. When I’m downstairs in my bed and my brain is going ’you’re gonna die, you’re gonna die’ I can visualize myself not being on the boat any longer. I see it from above at cloud level, I can see where it’s going, how fast it’s going, that there are no detainers, no whales, no icebergs..by doing that it allows me to lower my heart rate, reduce my adrenaline and get some sleep.

You don’t sleep much, either.
I only sleep twenty, or forty minutes. It’s a real management exercise to learn how you manage your sleep. To me the sport is about discipline.
People think we have to be crazy to do it but it is really the opposite.

You’re sailing a sixty foot boat in troubled seas, all alone, that’s a lot to keep track of.. This is a rocket ship. We have the world speed record for our class. In terms of tech this thing is quite unique and my baby. The foils – the wings that physically lifts the boat – are not as extreme as in the Americas’ Cup but a bit like that. The boat is designed with me and for me. It took altogether 40,000 man hours in one year and the design before that took one year. So it took two years to make it and it cost about 4,5 – 5 million euros. It’s not a small amount of change.

One problem is bumping into things. Breaking the mast. There’s potential issues everywhere. There’s an element of luck. But it’s also down to what choices you make. The technical challenges is what I love the most.
How do you produce something which is fast enough to win the race and yet strong enough to last?
If you make it more reliable you make it slower, and if you make it faster you make it less reliable – it becomes more fragile.

Coming back on the Atlantic Alex broke the 24h record whilst sailing on starboard tack and using his remaining foil.  “The addition of the foils have really been the main difference between sailing my new boat compared to my old boat. The foils are what makes them reach these new speeds by lifting the boat out of the water, creating less drag.”


And the weather..?  

When you sail around the world in 74 days you see it all. The coldest weather was at the end. The last two days the wind was minus 15 and the rails had icicles. I chose to slow down a bit at the end, so I’d arrive at daylight.

You came in 16 hours after Armel L’Cléach. How was it to meet up afterwards – how deep does the rivalry run between skippers ?
The arrival back into Les Sables d’Olonne is incredible, from the channel, all the way to the pontoon and race village, there are tens of thousands of people waving you back in and the atmosphere is incomparable. Being greeted by Armel and being able to shake hands and share experiences from the race is an amazing feeling after competing for so long.
We respect one another and there’s no other sport where it is the same. One of the reasons I love sailing, and particularly off shore sailing, is when you leave sight of land you then have an understanding of how small we are as a human race. And that’s a very humbling experience.
For the skippers, we’re fierce competitors, we’re desperate to beat each other. If something goes wrong we’re rescue services for the other people so the core of the relationship we have is amazing sportsmanship and huge amount of respect.

Is it easier being second during the race – chasing the guy rather than being chased?
In the situation where I was catching up it was terrible for him. He did not speak so much about it but his team did. They said he was a mess. He finished second the last time, and the time before. Twice. So it would have been terrible for him. For me I had nothing to lose.

One former Vendee Globe winner who watched the race said the interviews are the most stressful thing, especially towards the end.
They are part of the job, but the French are not the most communicative people. If something goes wrong they don’t like to say it because they think that might change the way other people compete against them.
Whatever people say to me it’s not going to change the way I sail. I said from the beginning that we’re going to be completely transparent. I took pictures of the foil and sent it to my team who chose not to show it which added to the conspiracies. That made me laugh. These things are extremely expensive to make and take four months to make. It’s not like you’re going to be able to do anything about it.
So I wanted to be transparent. We wanted to be the team that delivered the most content, so we did it everyday. The French public loved it, the fact that I made the effort to communicate.

The most viewed video was shot by a French navy helikopter off the Kerguelen Islands when you hoisted the Union Jack. Wasn’t that a little bit dangerous?
It wasn’t dangerous but it looked great.
In terms of rivalry there has never been anything bigger. ‘Les Rosbeef and the Frogs.’ With Brexit – it was amazing. A French journalist said at the press conference, ‘We hope you’ll win next time’. At the end, I shouted ‘Are you ready for a British winner?’ and they screamed ‘Yes!’.
They appreciate the effort and the challenge. They’re an amazing public, they really care for it. If you make an effort they reward you for it.

The technology has become a huge part of the sport.
The boats go bloody fast now and in less wind so my boat goes the fastest in no more than 20 knots of wind. Because we know that, and we use a piece of software that tells us the best way to go, it’s faster not to be in more wind than that. So you choose less wind. The computer chooses it.

How reliable is the computer? In the Gotland Run a few years ago your boat hit rocks that the GPS did not show.
The GPS is not perfect, if we’d been a meter the other way we would have been fine. We should have taken a lot wider birth. The chart is not a 100 percent accurate, either, when you imagine how many rocks you have in the sea there’s always going to be differences. It was a nasty chock but nothing happened. It’s one of the things that can happen, like hitting the curb when you’re driving a gocart.

What happened when you tested the boat in Spain before the Vendee?
We were two people when a wave hit the boat and in less than a second it flipped upside down. Immediately everything was black. My co-skipper said we had to get out. We opened the door and water came in. I said ‘I think we have to go in and shut the doors’. He jumped in the sea to swim away. Before I went in I had the wits to hit the keel button and the boat flipped up again now full of water.
We were rescued by a helicopter. We were in shock and flew to La Coruña airport wearing dripping wet survival suits…They showed us to a little grey door. It opened and we walked though….and we were in arrivals! People were stunned, they were like ‘I’m not getting on his airplane!’.   (Laughs). We went straight to the port to rescue my baby. I was quite proud to have done so but my team was devastated, they’d put thousands of man hours into building it. We had to think positively. We picked up the pieces and repaired it. ‘Thank you for showing us the power of never giving up’ they said afterwards. I said, ‘Dont worry – every cloud has a silver lining’.

Long, challenging hours at sea with very little sleep can sometimes make you feel grumpy. But never alone. “I some times feel isolated, but I have my family, friends, and supporters, so I cant feel lonely.”

You’ve compared the sport to Formula One..
There’s huge similarities between the sports. One driver, high speed, and all the technology. Both our sports are governed by rules. What stops development are the rules. We probably have less rules than F1. The structures for instance, we probably have less rules around what you can do with the composites. We’re able to advance technologically.
F1 cars are built with 200 kilos of carbon fiber, there are rules about what you can do. Ours is 2,000 kilos of carbon, the rules mean that we can be more innovative with it.
People who know F1 and who go aboard say ‘Wow, this is really the same’.
I took Lewis Hamilton with me in the Cowes. There was an incident and the press wrote ‘Hamilton crashes again’.

The difference is that you’re racing with sustainable energy – wind power.
We actually took 200 liters of diesel, two tanks of fuel basically to go around the world. Next time we hope to make it completely fossil fuel free.  We went from no knowledge to foils working two years later. Once we’ve figured out how to fly on the sea we’ll see some big advances in how to transport goods on sea. We’ll see how the revelation start to evolve now.
One of the things I picked up was how one man on a boat for three months accumulates a lot of rubbish. You see it in one place when normally, you throw it in the bin and you never see it again. I was quite chocked. And I probably wasn’t creating half of what I usually create. It was really quite disturbing.

I ate freeze dried food and had to make my own water. I only carry ten liters of water, so it made me realize how much we consume, and how much we waste. We normally don’t take care of the water. You just turn on the tap, leave it running to get the right temperature. On a boat I dont waste a drop.
You appreciate the simple things in life.

Do you prefer to race with a crew or alone?
The ultimate challenge is to to be alone. In terms of sociability I’d rather be with other people. But on your own the challenge of what you’re doing is incredible. There’s less than a hundred people who’ve done what I do. It’s an incredible privilege to be given the possibility to do it. The competition is very fierce.  But it’s a team event to have that boat in that position where it’s about the choices we make.  I end up being a small part in that team. By the time the race starts its less stressful than the build up.
We have the highest class. Whether I have a fast boat or a slow boat I still do my work at sea.

In the last two Vendées Alex Thomson came third and second, which means that a first place in the 2020 race is his next goal. When he’s not racing he’s invented stunts for his longtime sponsor, Hugo Boss – kite flying above his boat, walking on the keel and even on the mast dressed in a Boss suit

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has played major role in your career and also Sir Kenneth Miller.
Kenneth is a passionate sailor and sportsman. He created Sportaid for disadvantaged children to empower them, and he’s the man who got the 2012 Olympics to London.
He is my financial mentor. We met in the Clipper race where he came as crew and became friends. We talked about the Vendée Globe as the ultimate challenge. When I was back home he sent me a parcel in the post which had a plaque inside with a picture of a boat and a sun, and the inscription ; ‘Risk – If you want to discover new worlds – at first leave sight of the shore.’
I phoned him and thanked him for kicking me in the arse. He said I had what it took to participate in the race. He wanted to help me prepare for it, and make a business out of sailing. We contacted 900 companies over the course of a single year.
He ended up buying me a boat for 1,1 million pounds. It was a big risk for him. It was also a time when I got my first world record, and other records.

How much is about luck?
People always talk about luck. In sports when you get your details right you suddenly get lucky. Its about having a positive attitude. You learn from your mistakes, and you improve. So in a sense you celebrate your mistakes because they take you further. It is from our mistakes that we learn the most.

©

The author sailing with Alex Thomson in the Gotland Run – an awe inspiring experience which required work around the clock to keep ahead of the race. My task was snap shooting the adventure and interviewing the boys; the kind of work that makes journalism great fun.

 

 

 

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Flying high

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“You know, some people have no imagination,” said the Swiss explorer, Bertrand Piccard when I met him and his co-pilot, André Borschberg at the Solar Impulse HQs in Lausanne.   Both wrote history when they flew around the globe in their solar powered plane without using as much as a single drop of fuel.  No one thought it was possible though the techniques they employed had already been invented.   Now the work continues with The World Alliance for Efficient Solutions with the aim to find 1,000 solutions for a greener, and cleaner, future.

By Camilla Alfthan    

 

CA VOUS FAIS quoi de voir les images de votre tour du monde après avoir été isolé dans l’avion?  

BERTRAND PICCARD : Ca nous ramènent immédiatement dans les émotions, l’ambiance et l’atmosphère. Quand on est dans le cockpit c’est un moment magique. On voit les moteurs qui tournent uniquement par l’energie solaire. Il n’y a pas de pollution, pas de bruit et c’est la realité – c’est même pas la science fiction.
Mais il faut pas croire qu’on est complètement isolés. En même temps on est en relation avec du monde entier par téléphone satellite avec l’équipe à Monaco, avec les interviews et avec l’autre pilote qui ne vole pas. Donc c’est jamais monotone, c’est toujours fantastique.

ANDRE BORSCHBERG : On a le temps aussi. On est pas sous la pression d’arriver à une heure déterminée. Le but c’est d’arriver avec cette énergie là, et c’est pas important si on prend un jour de plus. C’est l’un des rares moments où on a pu vivre le présent et où on est vraiment dans ce que l’on fais; c’est le mindfulness. C’est un luxe et c’est une découverte aussi.
C’était aussi un tour avec des défis.
BP : Il y a eu tellement des moments sur le sol où c’était vraiment difficile, où on attendait le météo et savait pas, on attendait les autorisations techniques qui venaient pas et il y avait des problèmes techniques. Au sol c’était pénible. Le contraste avec le moment où on décolle, quand on se trouve dans la beauté de la nature avec cet avion completement écologique…c’était magique!
AB : Il fallait décoller pour cela et c’est vrai que le suspense de décoller ou pas décoller étais tel qu’il arrivait des fois trois minutes avant décollage que on a decidé de pas aller. Pas parce que on avait pas le technique mais parceque l’on se dit, “non, c’est pas le bon moment”, il faut savoir renoncer. Quand on était en l’air c’est là où on se dit vraiment,”Maintenant, c’est partie!“.

BP : Un vol Solar Impulse n’existe dès que l’avion est en air, et à la fin du vol quand l’avion est rangée dans le hangar. Parce que tout peut arriver au sol.
Vous avez eu la chance..
BP : Nous avon eu la chance mais aussi beaucoup de complications. Quand le hangar mobile s’est dégonflé par dessus Solar Impulse, quand André était au Japon est il a commencé à pleuvoir et quand on avaient pas encore le hangar mobile gonflée..
En Hawaii c’était le batterie qui avait surchauffé – c’était un problème opérationnel de notre équipe d’ingénieurs qui l’ont monté et remonté trop vite pour faire un test au début du vol vers Hawaii et ca a complètement perturbé la fonctionnement du batteri.
On a l’impression que vous êtes devenu très proches..
BP : On a travaillé ensemble depuis treize ans, et moi, j’ai commencé ce projet il y a quinze ans. On se d’abord rendu aux Etats-Unies pour voir ce que l’on pourrais faire, puis j’ai proposé le projet à l’Ecole Technique Fédérale. Ils ont accepté de faire une étude de faisabilité et ils on proposé André qui étais un consultant à l’extérieure de conduire cette étude de faisabilité. C’est comme ca que j’ai rencontré André.
 Je me suis dis que quelqu’un qui a autant de différence de moi allais me permettre de créer une relation trés synergique. André est pilote d’avion, moi je suis pilote de ballon. Il est ingénieur, moi je suis psychiatre. Il a crée des start up comme entrepreneur, moi je suis explorateur.
Donc c’etais une relation où chacun est l’inverse de l’autre et c’est ca qui est fantastique. Si on veut créer quelque chose il faut avoir des gens différents; il faut pas travailler avec des gens identique.

Bertrand Piccard et André Borschberg avant décollage.

AB : On a aussi beaucoup de choses en commun. Je pense que chacun avait son rêve à lui mais on a un monde commun où on se retrouve dans les aspirations profondes. C’est a travers de ce monde que l’on a trouve notre partenariat, et heureusement on est trés différents. On a pas la même approche et je sais qu’il n’as pas le même avis, mais je me réjouis à voir ce qui va m’encore sortir! De quel angle il va venir!
BP : On se surprend toujours.
 (Rires)

“Je me suis dis que quelqu’un qui a autant de différence de moi allais me permettre de créer une relation trés synergique. André est pilote d’avion, moi je suis pilote de ballon. Il est ingénieur, moi je suis psychiatre. Il a crée des start up comme entrepreneur, moi je suis explorateur.”

C’étais en effet votre peur de ne pas avoir assez de carburant lors du vol au ballon qui vous a donné l’idée de voler sans dépendance d’éssence fossile?
BP : Voler perpétuellement sans limite. Théoretiquement sans limite.
Vous avez jamais eu peur?
BP : Vous savez ce qui me fais peur? C’est de vivre dans un monde qui brûle un million de tonnes de pétrole par heure qui détruit le climate, qui perturbe l’environment, qui détruit les ressources de la planète..ca me fais peur! Quand on vole dans un avion qui est bien construit, qui bien est testé et que l’opération de vol est bien menée c’est un cadeau extraordinaire, c’est un privilège.
AB : C’est une découverte..
Quelle est la différence de vol entre Solar Impulse et un ballon ou bien une avion de chasse?
AB : La première chose c’est le sentiment d’être complétement indépendant. Vous avez l’énergie de voler sans interruption. C’est un sentiment de liberté qui est extraordinairement fort et puissant. Un avion qui mélange les meilleurs des technologies à ce que la nature donne et s’intègre dans la nature. On a une harmonie. C’est aussi cette réussite – ce que l’homme fait et la nature qui est notre monde. C’est très fort.

Ca se compare avec le paragliding?
BP : Le paraglider a besoin de l’ascendence thermique pour rester un vol et c’est souvent des vols courts. Quand vous partez vous espérez de trouver les points d’ascendence et vous pourrez pas traverser des océans.
AB : Nous, on fonctionne avec la nature et on a une harmonie avec la nature grace aux technologies propres qui utilisent cette force. Donc c’est une alliance de la technologie et la nature.
Et pour dormir?
BP : C’étais beaucoup plus courts. Le ballon a duré vingt jours et quand j’ai rentré l’absence de bruit m’a réveillé pendant deux semaines où je me suis réveillé en criant.
Et dans l’avion?
AB : Quand il fait nuit et vous allez dormir vous entendez toujours des petites bruits.
BP : Le craquements? Tu m’as réveillé, quand tu m’avais dis qu’il y avait des craquements et tous ca. (Rit)
AB : Le petits craquements, les petits décochements, il y a des interactions sur les différents fréquences. Si il fait nuit vous commencez à entendre des pétits chose. Imaginez que vous êtes seule dans le jungle, vous fermez les yeux et il fait nuit, vous allez entrendre plein des petits choses et vous allez imaginer qu’il y ait un tigre en train de rentrer chez vous, ou un serpent qui vous serre le cou! Alors c’est un peu la même chose. Finalement, il faut avoir confiance en cet vol quand il faut se reposer. Pour moi c’étais très étonnant au début.
Le fait que vous avez construit l’avion, ca vous rassure?
AB : Oui, c’est un peu ca. J’ai perdu une fois pendant le vol une partie de l’entoilage qui se trouve sous l’aile et qui se détaché, donc c’est vrai que ca m’as peut-être marqué parce qu’au moment c’étais un peu délicat. Mais c’est vrai, on est un peu plus sensible à se demander, qu’est ce qui se passe, est-ce qu’il y a quelque chose en train de se passer, est-ce que c’est un signe qui me dis qu’il y ait quelque chose en train de se passer. Chacun a ses experiences et chaqu’un a son monde.
BP : Il y a des fois où il fallait se forcer à dormir. Je me rappelle une fois pendant la traversé de l’Atlantique et il y avait la pleine lune avec des reflets extraordinnaire sur l’océan. Et puis, je dormais vingt minutes et je me suis dis; “J’envie de regarder ca, j’ai pas envie de dormir”. C’est pour ca que le temps de sommeil étais dans le temps de travail. C’est pas autant de plaisir. Je me suis rendormi et puis au levée du soleil extraordinnaire le deuxième matin je doit encore dormir. Et c’est triste parce que c’étais tellement beau.

Le premier vol Solar Impulse a eu lieu en Suisse  en juillet 2010 © AFP PHOTO/FABRICE COFFRINI/SOLARIMPULSE

Comment vous vous êtes préparé pour cette aventure?
AB : On s’est entraîné dans des simulateurs, sept heures pendant la nuit sans dormir et sans manger. Techniquement vous testez. Mais les émotions on peu pas les simuler. Les émotions c’est quelque chose qui se développent au cours du vol, c’est là où vous devriez gérer.
BP : Moi, j’ai utilisé l’auto-hypnose pour gérer ca. André le yoga. Dans le film vous voyez André faire le yoga au cockpit.
AB : Il y a la coté physique et puis, il y a un coté mental. Vous avez des techniques de respiration pour vous soulager du pression de l’extérieur. Prendre un peu de distance par a ce qui se passe et calmer le flux d’idée, le flux de pensés que l’on a dans le cerveau. Donc ca permets de réposer le cerveau sans dormir. Ce techniques il faut s’entrainer – moi je fait pendant dix ans et Bertrand a développé sa technique d’auto-hypnose.
BP : C’est vrai que j’ai utilisé l’auto-hypnose pour rester éveillé dans Solar Impulse et on peut aussi l’utiliser pour dormir, mais il y avait tout le temps des alarms donc c’est trés rare de pouvoir faire vingt minutes de suite. La masque à oxygène est extrêmement désagréable et j’ai utilisé l’autohypnose pour être bien. C’est super bien pour augmenter l’energie du corps, en effet j’avais moins de stress après trois jour en Solar Impulse que quand je prend la voiture pour aller à Zürich. C’étais vraiment marrant. Alors, maintenant quand je roule en voiture après deux heures je m’imagine que je suis deux jours au Solar Impulse et je vais très bien.
Alors maintenant; c’est le anti-climax? Le fais que la grande aventure est fini?
AB : Il y a un mélange des differents sentiments. Il y a un nostalgie et finalement ca se fait pas parce que on est deux, mais parce qu’il y a une équipe dans le vol et autour du monde, 140 personnes.
Chaque personne qui a participée, si c’est le téchnicien ou la communication, a contribuée au succes de cette mission. L’équipe c’est des gens qui sont extrêmement proche parce que on a partagé des choses très forts. Quand on se sépare de ces gens c’est la nostalgie. La vol est fini mais le projet continue.
BP: On a pas chaumé depuis la fin du vol. On a pas eu la possibilité de s’assoir tous les deux, André et moi, pour se dire, “Ca y est. On a réussi!” Chaque fois c’est la course, des interviews, des cerémonies, des récompenses, des conferences, des film que l’on montre, des séances photos, mais le fait de s’assoir et se dire, “On a réussi, on profite”. Ca on a pas pu faire.
AB : On a un livre qui sort fin janvier, et j’ai impression que ce là ou on pourrait vraiment finir notre tour du monde.
BP : Après la dernière atterissage on a su que l’on allait réussir. Il s’est passé tellement de choses.
AB : Tout le monde nous a surexcité pour éviter de faire la petite faute qui gâcherais tout. Vous avez une montée d’adrenaline qui est de suspense et qui donne l’energie.
Comme Lindberg quand il a traversé l’Atlantique.
BP : Quand il est venu la piste était totalement pleine de gens donc il pourrais pas d’atterrir toute de suite, il a du faire la passage à l’écart.

Le selfie de Bertrand Piccard en traversant l’Atlantique. 

Aujourd’hui, pensez-vous que les gens ont vraiment compris votre reussite?

BP : Il y a des gens qui comprennent et il y a des gens qu’il comprendront jamais. Vous savez, il y a des gens qui n’ont pas de capacité d’imagination. Il y a des gens qui disaient que la premier avion sert à rien. Il y a des gens qui ont dit que la première voiture servira à rien. Parceque, autre fois avec une voiture il fallait qu’il y ait quelqu’un qui marche avec un drapeau pour avertir les piétons qu’il y ai une voiture qui arrive. C’étais considéré comme sans avenir. Il y a des gens qui ont dis que les ordinateurs ca arriveraient à rien.
AB : Comme le téléphone…

“Vous avez, il y a des gens qui n’ont pas de capacité d’imagination. Il y a des gens qui disaient que la premier avion sert à rien.”

BP : Mon arrière-grand père – quand il avait installé le premier télephone en Suisse dans son bureau et à sa maison, il a invité tous ces collègues qui étaient des professeurs de l’Université à Bâle, et tous ces collègues ont regardé quand il a dis “J’ai téléphone à moi femme.”. Il a téléphone à sa femme et ces collègues ont dis; “Ecoute, Jules, c’est trés intéressante mais ca n’a aucun avenir!”.
Alors pour nous, Solar Impulse, c’est le début de quelque chose nouveau, un noveau cycle. Il y a des avions electriques dans dix ans avec moins des 50 personnes pour des courts courriers. André a des trés jolies idées pour le moyens de transport urbans electriques.
AB : Depuis qu’on a commence il y a treize ans il y a eu une evolution. Il y a Tesla qui ont fait la voiture électrique avec la prise. Solar Impulse prend l’énergie du soleil alors que vous pourrez prendre votre energie où vous voulez. C’est pas perdu comme un moteur au piste où le deux tiers de gaz que vous émettez serviraient à rien. C’est la chaleur, c’est perdu. Deux litres de pétrole sur trois, think about it! Donc l’énergie électrique est efficace, s’est silente. Ils developpent des avions électriques qui peuvent décoller verticalement d’un immeuble à l’autre. C’est le vertical take off, autonome, silencieux, et sans de pollution. Ce qui était la science fiction dans les bandes dessinés il y a dix ans est devenu la réalité grâce a la propulsion électrique. Ce qui était une énigme il y a treize ans devient la realité.
BP : Et puis, maintenent Solar Impulse a fait bouger la coté technique. Alors maintenent il y a la côté politique, de faire écouter les politiciens, et ca c’est le but avec iMondial pour rassembler toutes les professionnels de cette téchnique de manière à pouvoir créer une immense réseau qui amène des solutions. Dans moins de deux ans je me suis engagé à trouver milles solutions et les rendre rentable et efficient pour protéger l’environment. Les gouvernements ont besoin des négociations politiques. Alors, ce qu’il faut c’est des moyens et des solutions techniques pour y arriver là à ce but. Sinon c’est le wishful thinking.

Un vol solaire en 2012 – trois ans avant la première étape autour du monde. Les 40,000km sans carburant étaient une première pour les énergies propres.

Qu’elle est l’avenir avec Donald Trump qui veut réintroduire le charbon?
BP : S’il veut la croissance, il sera obligé de développer des techniques écologiques. Parce que c’est ca qui fais la croissance; pas les vieux systems. Vous avez des voitures électriques, des lumières led, des panneaux solaire, tous ca c’est nouveau.. mais il voudrais aller en arrière avec le charbon.
Donc vous faites le lobbying pour ces techniques?
Quand j’annoncé l’alliance de iMondial il y a eu énormément d’espoir. Ils attendent tous de cette travail, même les G8. J’ai parlé beaucoup aux hommes politiques. Ils sont tous un peu dispersé, ils savaient pas comment l’utiliser. Ce qu’il faut maintenent c’est de faire le lien entre ce technique et les hommes politiques. C’est le but de la fondation.
Vous saviez tous ca quand vous avez commencé cette aventure?
BP : Moi, c’étais mon but. C’étais pour avoir un outil crédible qui puisse communiquer ces techniques écologiques.
AB : Nous avons des partenaires qui viennent des differents cotés, c’est pas des partenaires aeronautiques. C’est la chimie, la technique, les ascenceurs, les gens qui deplace des gens qui voudrait le faire d’un maniere efficace. Donc ils souhaitent de trouver des solutions efficaces. Toutes les produits qu’on a crée ils trouvent leur places dans d’autres applications. Par exemple le batterie va maintenent aussi dans des refrigérateurs pour les rendre plus efficace avec moins de consommation d’energie. C’est sont des solutions simples. Mais c’est là où on fais des économies. C’est là où on va changer.
BP : Au Cop 22 il y avait un interêt enorme, c’étais un méssage positif, un message d’espoir. La receptivité des gens sur place étais extraordinaire. Le Maroc a une programme extraordinnaire. Le roi a un but d’avoir 52 pourcent de l’energie vert dans 30 ans. Il va y arriver.
Finalement, dans une année sombre Solar Impulse étais une rayon de lumière.
BP : Ce ca que le médias ont pris – l’espoir.
AB : On veut montrer que les choses impossibles sont réalisables. Notre projét montre que ce qui a l’air difficile et impossible est quand même faisable. Ca ouvre chaque fois le monde quand on discute avec les gens. C’est la plaisir aussi – le chemin pour y arriver étais la meilleure partie de ce projet. ©

Solar Impulse au hangar. La propulsion électrique, le ‘H55’,  est la dernière aventure d’aviation dirigé par André Borschberg.

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Frida Lyngstad

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“I like all sorts of music. Opera, classic, pop, jazz, hiphop.. And sometimes just silence.,” tells Frida Lyngstad.

It’s been over 30 years since the break up of ABBA, but Annifrid Lyngstad – better known as Frida – never left the world of music. 

By Camilla Alfthan

YOUR LATEST single is about the 150th anniverisary of the ascent of the Matterhorn. Do you climb yourself? When I was younger I climbed a great deal. Now I ski a lot, sometimes off piste and heli skiing. I did the Haute Route from Verbier to Zermatt. It takes a great deal of physical effort – you carry your skies on your back and walk with leather underneath them as you’re going up. Once you’ve reached the top you ski down the most incredible, untouched snow – then you’re happy. After that, there’s other mountains to climb – a bit like life with sadness and disappointments in between moments of happiness and joy.

How did you end up in Zermatt? I moved here after I lost my husband 16 years ago. We already had some property and I sold our house in Friburg where we’d lived during many years. I’ve here now been for 15 years and in Switzerland for over 31 years. I’m very comfortable in the midst of nature surrounded by the mountains.

Do you sing in the mountains? No, I don’t. You really must be focused at what you’re doing and where you put your feet so you don’t fall down. Mountain climbing always fascinated me – people who affront challenges where it’s just themselves and nature and you’re not quite sure of what could happen. If it is fortunate or if something could go wrong. There’s risks with the crevises of the glaciers and lose rocks but they do it anyway. As creative people we always need new challenges and to have new goals.

You used to sail – was that also a risky sport? Not at all. (Laughs.) I sailed with Benny (Andersson) and the most dramatic event was when we’d anchored in a fishing net on the western coast of Sweden. We started drifting and couldn’t sleep all night. The next morning we had to get help from the coast guards to get lose. They had to take the boat up on land to untangle us.

“I’m a pedantic and honest person. I have X-ray eyes and I see everything. It sometimes drives me crazy. “

What are you doing now? I’ve designed a skiing overall which J. Lindeberg is producing and I’m very happy with it. I’m writing about my life. It could be a book, a musical or a film; I don’t know yet – I’ve written a lot in my life but never a book. It takes patience and discipline which is not always easy to maintain. My boyfriend pushes me – he thinks it’s a great idea and for me it’s important to have a goal to work towards.Music always played a major role in your life.. Music has ruled my life. When you come from a modest background you use your talent to move on. You challenge yourself and you ascend certain mountains. Music has been in my life for over sixty years. It’s been with me on the path to happiness and it’s helped me through sorrows. It is interesting how music affects people, how it can help in many situations. Personally, I like all sorts of music. Opera, classic, pop, jazz, hiphop.. And sometimes just silence.

Do you miss the days with ABBA? No, I don’t miss ABBA. It’s been forty years since we started and it was a different time. I don’t miss working as intensely as we did then. As you get older you want to take it easy. I don’t perform and I don’t want to stand in the limelight. We were young and had a drive – it would never work now. As Björn says, ‘ who wants to look at a bunch of old people?’ It’s better that you remember us from our youth. Besides, we all do different things now. Just because you’ve performed it doesn’t mean that you’ll be doing it for the rest of your life.

Now you’re in a museum in Sweden – how does that feel? Björn took responsibility for the creation of the ABBA Museum at Djurgården in Stockholm. He wanted to make sure that it would be exactly the way we want it instead of leaving it to someone else and then not be happy with the result. Thanks to his initiative it turned out great.

Which of your own traits do you like the best? That I’m a pedantic and honest person. However, sometimes I like my pedantic side the least. I have X-ray eyes and I see everything. It sometimes drives me crazy.

If you could change something what would that be? I guess nothing. I like myself the way I am. It’s the contradictions which makes you the person you are.

If you hadn’t been a singer what would you have done instead? At school I got my best marks for gymnastics, drawing and music. If I hadn’t chosen music I would’ve become something within design – fashion or interiour design which also interests me.

Who do you admire? Children who despite a difficult childhood use their inner strength and drive to create a good life for themselves. I work with charities for children as it’s extremely important that we adults are there for them. They need mentors and idols for their continuous growth.

You were brought up by your grandmother? Yes, recently, when they commemorated the Holocaust victims I was thinking about that and where I come from. I wasn’t Lebensborn as people often write – I was born in November 1945 when the war had just ended. My father was a German officer in Norway when he met my mother. My grandmother took my out of there when my mother passed away. I’m the result of a love affair. It wasn’t popular in Norway to be seen with the Germans but I can understand their relation. You always seek love.

What do you find is the worst tendency in the world that we live in today? It’s terrible with the terrorism all over the world which creates fear and hatred. I cannot tolerate that you treat anyone differently just because of their religion and I cherish everyone who stands up for diversity and different thinking.

Do you have a motto? To live in respect and peace with everyone despite their religion, sexuality or race.

What is the best thing anyone ever said to you? ‘I love you’. It could be anyone – an adult, a child or a fan.

When do you feel the most sexy? That’s a funny question to someone who is almost 70 (laughs). I think I look good – I’m happy with myself. The sexiest thing is when a person feels good about herself. ©

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The days that really stand out

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November 30th, 2018 was nothing short of spectacular for Mikaela Shiffrin: On Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies she wins her first Super G, joining an elite group to win all five major disciplines in alpine skiing. As her records keep piling up, Shiffrin prefers to ski for herself rather than the results to avoid the extra pressure, she tells.

By Camilla Alfthan  

AS THE  YOUNGEST athlete ever to win Olympic gold in slalom, Mikaela Shiffrin has had some memorable moments in her stellar career. But the day that really stands out is the day she won her first Super G – the alpine speed event in the World Cup series that she was missing.

“When I was a little girl I was dreaming of being able to win in all of the skiing disciplines and I didn’t expect that it would happen so quickly. And then to do it again the next week in St. Moritz was even more incredible. It was really special to know that all the hard work is paying off,” tells the 23-year old during a training break with her boyfriend in the Norwegian fjälls.

On the world circuit Lake Louise is one of the most quiet races, surrounded by endless forests of pines and the majestic ridge lines of the Canadian Rockies. Most people have to fly here and the stadium only has room for a couple of hundred fans – a stark contrast to the previous weekend in Vermont where almost 40,000 people attended.  

“For me it’s really nice because you’re not focusing on all the distractions and who is around. You’re just doing your skiing. It’s almost like going back to when I was 12 or 13 and racing and the only people who were watching were the parents and the court workers,” tells Mikaela Shiffrin.

As the clouds were coming in when she was getting ready in the starting gate, her coaches feared that it was going to get dark and effect her run. 

“I was like, ‘I don’t care if it is cloudy or sunny. I know that the weather can change. It doesn’t matter, I’m still going to follow my plan and ski how I want to. To really go aggressive and attack the mountain.’ When I have that mind set it’s a cool feeling. There’s a little bit of luck in it, too, but if you stop worrying about whether you’re going to be lucky or unlucky then you kind of take luck into your own hands.” 

Just one week later, Shiffrin won her second Super G on the tough and tricky course of St. Moritz in Switzerland. She also won the parallel slalom – a new city event which means that skiers now compete for six disciplines instead of five which adds a lot to the schedule.

“The event itself is harder on our bodies than any other event. My back is still sore and it’s been five days now. I couldn’t ski for three days because I was totally done,” she tells with a shrug. 

Mikaela Shiffrin attacking the mountain in Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies.

For the American prodigy, skiing was always a way of life. She was only two and a half when her parents began to teach her at home in their drive way. Later, they took her to local championships with her older brother where she caught the skiing bug.

“My first memory is probably skiing in the Nastar ski racing programme, where there’s a lot of different mountains where anyone can go. You just start and they say who has the fastest time within your group. That’s a really fun thing to do. I was skiing with my brother and my parents. That was one of the first things that got me a passion for the sport. I always wanted to race and I always had that competitive spirit.”

Her boyfriend is the French giant slalom specialist, Mathieu Faivre that she has been dating since the summer of 2016.

“He really understands how it feels to be at the top level. There’s so much passion and we both want to win. If something goes wrong it’s so frustrating and heartbreaking. I think certain people would not understand; they’d think ‘whatever, who cares’ and he can help me in so many ways. One of the biggest things is being able to talk with him.”

Above all, Shiffrin skis because she loves the sport.

“I love to go powder skiing and free skiing but right now my biggest passion is training and racing, and I love to feel the speed. Every event is different. When I’m working on my skis and my technique I feel how I’m improving and I see the results in the races. It’s a like a puzzle and I love that part of it – to piece the whole thing together.”

“Every event is different. It’s a like a puzzle and I love that part of it,” tells Mikaela Shiffrin. In 2018 she became the first skier ever to win 15 World Cup races within a year.

Her goal is not to win more world cups but to be one of the world’s best skiers of her time.

“If I think too much about my wins then I stop winning. I have a tough time thinking too much about the result and not about working and training to get better.

It’s about putting in the time and the hard work, but also doing it right so it works.  A lot of athletes could win many races, but maybe their ski equipment is not quite at the right level to give them the speed that they need. That’s one small detail that can make a really big difference.  It’s also managing you time to have the right amount confidence and right level of preparation so you have the right energy. I think we have good balance of that in my team. Right now it is working, but that is not always the case.”

Although the skier herself downplays her many feats, it hasn’t stopped the experts analyzing Shiffrin’s astonishing achievements. In 2018 she had a total of 51 World Cups as the youngest skier ever. If she continues like this she could beat Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 88 victories in just a few years. But that would not change anything, she reflects.

“Stenmark is one of the biggest legends in our sport and he’ll always be that. People who know nothing about skiing remember Stenmark. He made such a big impact and you can never take that away. You’re not able to compare, really. He was in a different sport. It has since evolved  – the skis are different and the technology; all these things are different. If you’re the greatest now, maybe you’d have to have 120 wins.”  

Her all time favourite is the American champion, Bode Miller for his style, which was sometimes very reckless and exiting, just like his personality. Now she’s the one who’s captivating huge audiences.

“It’s hard to believe because I’m inspired by others and I still feel like when I was 12 and watching Bode compete and hoping that maybe I could get his autograph on my helmet. For sure I’m at the level as one of the best skiers of the world. But it’s also very easy for me to remember those days, and feel that it is impossible for me to be in this position right now, because I still feel like that little girl.” ©

Skier Mikaela Shiffrin Presents New Longines Watch at Macy’s Herald Square in New York (PRNewsfoto/Longines)

Mikaela Shiffrin

Born 1995, Vail, Colorado, USA.    Family Jeff and Eileen Shiffrin, brother Taylor.   Profession Alpine skier.   Skiing background Her parents were competitive skiers who took her to local championships where she could race.    Current Leads the World Cup series.    Travels  With her team and some 70 pairs of ski.

Highlights

2013 Her first US slalom championship.    2014 Her first Olympic gold medal.    2017 Her first Overall world cup title.  2018 Olympic gold in giant slalom and silver in the alpine combined. First skier to win 15 World Cup races within a year. Most successful female Slalom skier of all-time (36 World Cup wins).  First skier to win all five major alpine skiing disciplines of the World Cup plus the new parallel discipline. A total of 51 World Cup victories, as the youngest skier ever.    2019 Won two gold medals at the World Ski Championships in Åre – a Super G, and a record fourth-straight slalom title.

Favourite skiing destinations

Åre, Sweden. “A really nice mountain to go skiing. When the lake is frozen, there’s lake races, ice fishing and hockey. The town is really cute and Christmassy.” aresweden.com.     Courchevel, France. “Very high end and expensive, with wonderful hotels, amazing food and a beautiful mountain with really nice powder skiing.” courchevel.com      St. Moritz, Switzerland. “The town is beautiful, and there’s lots of après ski. It would be so nice to have a couple of days off where my boyfriend and I could just free ski.” stmoritz.com.     Zermatt, Switzerland. “I’ve been there skiing with my parents. It’s a really cool and unique place with a glacier that you can ski on in the summer.” zermatt.ch.     La Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy and the Austrian side of the border. “It has perfect skiing and the topography is beautiful with the rock formations of the Dolomites. It’s a place we always love to go to.” dolomiti.org.     Lapland. “I’d like to go back when it is dark most of the day and feels like Christmas. It’s a really different and cool thing that I think a lot of people would enjoy experiencing. Last year in Levi I saw a small green shift in the sky and I’d like to go back outside the town to see all the different colours of the Northern lights.” levi.fi

 

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Tibet’s realistic optimist

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“Dalai Lama spreads happiness..If you think positively when you resist there’s a greater chance that you will succeed,” says Bob Thurman who calls himself “a realistic optimist in the current nightmare caused by leaders that are ignorant, greedy and stubborn”.  Since the early sixties he’s been a close friend of the Dalai Lama. Last year he published the book ‘Man of Peace’ which introduces the Tibetan buddhism to the younger generations.

Despite Tibet’s many challenges, professor Robert Thurman takes the brighter view. China will gain from a good relation with the Dalai Lama. When that happens, Tibet will become the jewell of the Chinese empire. 

By Camilla Alfthan

“THE TIBETANS are the baby seals of the human rights movement, they’re non violent and believe in word peace. But they’re still being crushed. The Dalai Lama told the Chinese a long time ago that even even though they were invaded in the 1950s they do not need independence if they’re allowed their own constitution and if they allow them to have a minority autonomy, they’d be happy to be a part of a Chinese union. But the Chinese are pretending the Tibetans want to separate to have an excuse to be hard liners,” tells Robert Thurman, founder of Tibet House in New York.

As a professor of religion at the Columbia University he has specialized in the Indian and Tibetan versions of buddhism. That religion and international politics are cut from the same cloth was a lesson that Thurman learned as a young Harvard freshman when he first met the Dalai Lama in his Indian exile. The iconic leader who is perceived to be the 14th reincarnation of his predecessor was only 19 when he negotiated his country’s future with China’s  Mao Tse-tung. After several years of failed peace negotiations he fled to Dharmsala where he now functions as the Tibetans spiritual leader while he has handed over his political obligations to the Harvard educated professor, Lobsay Sangay.

Why is Tibet so important today? Tibet is very important because it is a colonial possession of China. And China is a big emerging power in the world trying to convince people that they’re not a threat and so good and great to do business with. They’re cracking down on Tibet along with the Uyghur people of Xian. How can they be believed when they are cracking down on their own people though Hong Kong, Vietnam, Philippines, South Chorea have relaxed their control of minorities? When China controls something they crush them; their culture, their freedom. If they say they have everything under control they’re completely crooked.

The Tibetans are second class citizens so Tibet is a symbol, though buddhism is different in Burma and Sri Lanka.  Buddha is not threatening, it is not jihad. And yet they’re ruthlessly crushing them. So I think its an old fashioned policy of China. They’d like to change but haven’t decided how and they don’t want to make a mistake. In Scandinavia governments have learned that the Chinese are so insidiously trying to control the world media in the same way they control their own media, and have the own version of the press, and the history and future. They’ve realized that the Chinese won’t accept there’s free speech in so called democratic countries, and that they can’t suppress the people, so the do suppress them.

Girl playing on the Roof of the World – photo Kevin Frayer for the Washington Post.

Will that change? I think I’m one of the rare people who think things will get better soon. Because China wants to function on the world stage, they will get public relations advice and probably think they’ll get a dictator’s advice on how to lie. But instead they’ll learn that the best way to show that you’re nice is to be nice. Especially when you can, and they certainly can with Tibet.

There’s a very foolish fraction now in the politbureau who are crushing the muslim people of Xiang. They have to retract the angry, jihadist type by creating such a a harsh suppression. Tibet is way down the list, and has been since the 2008 Olympics. They cracked down on them very harshly, but it paled in comparison to other countries.

The Uyghurs are in a terrible state. A million people in detention are being educated to be good people and communist Chinese citizens, instead of being muslim.  It never works, they’re very resilient. I think the president Xi does recognize this, but you can’t change suddenly, they don’t want to make a mistake and continue the Chinese way for colonial centuries, not realising that they can make public relations out of a good relation with the Dalai Lama.

“Tibet would be a test page of how you can support people who are non-Chinese and not crack down and chew them up as citizens in a nation machine”

Tibet would be a test page of how you can support people who are non-Chinese, and not crack down and chew them up as citizens in a nation machine. This would put people at ease in places such as Hong Kong and Taiwan tremendously.  I think he realises that, President Xi  – I call him Emperor Xi at this point, almost. People don’t realise that even emperors don’t have absolute power and that it takes time to change policies.

When could it happen? I’m very optimistic that this will happen soon and within the lifetime of the Dalai Lama. He’ll be 84 next year and there will be many headlines, I think, when they make the conditions appropriate so that he could visit his people in his homeland. They have to persuade him that he can go to see his people, that he won’t go to prison. He can only go there when China says publicly that they will change their attitude about him and about the people and about buddhism. President Xi said they need ancient culture, that there’s a need to rehabilitate Confucius, and his family is interested in buddhism. I have no doubt there will be change, but when? That’s always the question.

The Tibetans survived the cultural revolution, and prior to that the Great War of the fifties when they quarantined hundreds of thousands and they turned everything upside down with their class struggle reforms and the gulag. They survived all that and they’re still Tibetans and they’ll survive anything else, so I’m optimistic about the future.

There’s a terrible trend on the planet now that our government here is mostly amending by the partnering with dictatorships, and this is an unfortunate thing.  Therefore the Chinese and their Communist Imperium might be interested – because of the resources in Chinese culture – about what a responsible emperor is.

They were buddhists for 1,000 of years,  Confucius made a very honorable thing about being emperor. Things will turn around, and even here in the US.

It’s important that people are aware of it, and familiar with it, because a human rights revolution is different than a communist revolution or any violent revolution – it’s a revolution that speaks against oppression. It’s very important that Tibet’s claims will succeed,  as it will provide an example for many other minority issues; that violence is not the solution, but that actual dialogue and mutual support is the way forward.

There’s so much going on in the world of today. Are people less interested in Tibet? No, Tibet is going way back to Shangri-La, Wakanda, the magical roots of the world, Alexandre Davide Neil; the great French explorer in the 20th century. It goes way back. That’s why the Chinese are trying to keep the Dalai Lama from going anywhere because he is so photogenic; people like him so much. He fills stadiums even if he’s not trying to turn anyone into a buddhist, he just wants people to have a better life. He specifically does not want them to shift away from their religion. In polls, his popularity is right up there with Pope Francis. It’s died down a little in terms of activism, but it’s still very strong.

What has Tibet given you in your life? I love Tibet, it’s my intellectual home. The home of the scientific mind and psychology. I’d been looking to Freud, Wittgenstein and through that the original Indian enlightenment book about the Buddha. I was not a very religious, and I’m still not.

The allure was more of a scientific and cultural side. You really find many things that are very deep in the Indian philosophy and science, especially in mental science, how you change the mindset, and how you deal with it. That’s what I found there, after Harvard : Great psychology and modules about the rules of relativity, biology with a soul and a mind instead of this ridiculous idea that everything is just atoms and molecules; where we’re trapped in the West at the moment.

So, I have a gratitude to Tibet’s cultural and scientific gifts to me. The Dalai Lama was my friend since early sixties, the pre-hippie days. I worked to let people know about it. It was a cultural level for me, not so much a religious or a political level, so I’m very happy for that. I feel Tibetans are incredibly endurable and very strong.

“Tibet will become the jewell of China when they start caring about the Tibetans”

They resisted for over sixty years – reforms, class struggle and a kind of brainwashing they did really intensely. When there was a brief window in 1983-87, when China was trying to show nicer things, they started to rebuild their temples and their technical skills were amazing despite the fact that they’d been criminalizing this for thirty years. They just want to be Tibetans and have their culture.

Tibet will become the jewell of China when they start caring about the Tibetans.  They made some stupid decisions when they moved Chinese people and factories there to develop the area. The Chinese took all the benefits and they wrecked the environment, they looted it.  Destroyed the rivers and now they have a big water problem. You can’t bite of your nose – you only have one. They’ve realized this at the very top leadership level but the implementation is complex, they have to figure out how to do this in terms of logistics and the ministries that are involved.

Photos Nicoline Patricia Malina for Harper’s Bazaar.

But they will do it and then Tibet will be a jewell, like Switzerland, and they’ll make a lot of tourist money. In the eighties, they had quite a good tourist income there. Then they started their crushing business by the late eighties, and they lost the foreign tourists and got Chinese tourists. But that does not bring in money, it just circulates it. The point is; they’d make huge amounts in mountaineering, hiking, winter skiing, and the health industry – it could be a huge industry.

The Chinese are not really communists. The politbureau is the imperial committee. And now their president has a lifelong period -the envy of Mr Trump. They will continue with socialism. Confucianism was also that, where everyone had their little land of 9 acres and paid one ninth of taxes to the state.

There’s the religious cult, Dolgyan Shogden opposing the Dalai Lama.. Everyone has to counterforce everyone, but it doesn’t work. No-one is winning a single war anymore. The information is too widespread and the weapons are too powerful, so you can’t win wars any longer.  The decolonisation of the 20th century was not out of the good will of Churchill, it had to do with the impossibility with the modern technology and economy of oppressing people. It doesn’t work. Some always survive and then they’ll get back after you, that’s the way it is. Now we’re forced into a new global society and hopefully there will be a law abiding nest. If anybody is a pioneer it is the Scandinavians. They are the ball, the middle way between…


Photo S
tandard Architecture 

What are your thoughts on the Chinese architect, Zhang Ke who won a prize for his buildings by the Niyang river? He looks like a great guy. He did a great job, and as an artists I’m sure he appreciates Tibetan architecture and culture, and he made a modern version of that.

A lot of Chinese love Tibet, actually, a lot of communist party members have the Dalai Lama in their little closet there, they do! And it’s just a matter of time before they kind of deal with it. Then they have to deal with the integration of the Chinese buddhism and Tibetan buddhism because they are different. The popularity of Tibets buddhism makes some of the Chinese teachers a little worried. There will be dialogue. It will all work out, I’m pretty sure.

I get lots of Chinese students at Columbia, many undergraduates. They’re dying to learn about buddhism, they particularily love Tibet, the young ones go hiking there, they have Tibetan boyfriends or girlfriends. They go riding there, they like the colourfulness of the culture and don’t want to see it  marginalised. It will all work out…

The Dalai Lama once said at at dinner party to people who had helped Tibet, “Thank you very much. But I want you to know that in the long run, if you want to help Tibet, help everybody else, too”. So that’s the attitude.” ©

 

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King for two months

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After the declaration of Independence, Finland elected its first – and last – monarch. His great-grandson is a photographer in Germany.

By Camilla Alfthan

‘Väinö the First’ was the nickname of the prince who in 1918 became Finland’s first monarch – a name inspired by Väinamöinen; the hero of Finland’s epic Kalevala tales. His real name was a little longer – Charles the first, King of Finland and Karelia, count of Åland, Grand Duke of Lapland, Lord of Kalevala and the Nordics. An impressive row of titles for the man elected ruler of Great Finland.

The story, however, turned out differently and the monarchy was abandoned after just two months, before the new king had even set foot on Finnish soil. Though Finland’s short-lived flirt with monarchy is now a colourful interlude in the nation’s turbulent beginnings, the king is not entirely forgotten.

In Helsinki the House of Knights recently opened an exhibition about his two months on the throne. Guest of honour was the German prince Philipp of Hessen who today could have been king of Finland had his great-grandfather remained in this position.
The exhibition displayed the impressive speed with which the Finns began to create their own royal house. Letters of nobility were written and a crown was drawn, while the famous painter, Akseli-Gallén Kallela designed uniforms for the employees of the court.
The Imperial Palace which was built during Finland’s years as an independent Russian duchy, was going to be transformed into a royal castle after a thorough renovation following the devastations of the civil war where the red guards had used it as their headquarters.

An architect and an interior designer of the department store, Stockmann were hired to decorate the king’s private residence – an impressive villa in the Eira district by Gustaf Estlander which had been completed by the famous Finnish architect, Eliel Saarinen. They drew detailed plans and travelled to European cities to buy furniture, mirrors, lamps, silver wear and porcelain. Much was German biedermeier – the height of fashion at the time. Nordic touches were Finnish ryas and Gustavian cupboards.
“The election of the king was a strategic decision as the Finns wanted a monarch as a counterbalance to the Russian dictator. They first asked the German emperor if they could have one of his sons but he declined and suggested his brother-in-law, Friedrich Karl, who was a prince and Landgraff of Hessen, “ tells his 47-year old great-grandson, Philipp of Hessen.

King Charles the First of Finland and his valet. Uniforms for his employees were designed by the famous painter, Akseli Gallén-Kallella. © Museiverket.

World War I was raging in most of Europe and a revolution had broken out in Russia. When Finland left the crumbling Czarist regime, the country was suddenly divided in two : The official White Finland which had declared its’ Independence and the Reds who wanted to join the new communist state. During the brief war which followed the Vasa government began to discuss a change in Finland’s constitution.

“The Russian revolution had spread to Finland and the bolsheviks encouraged the social democrats to take up arms. When the Soviets recognized Finland’s Independence on New Year’s eve 1917 it was only because they thought that the social democrats would take power,” tells historian Henrik Meinander.

The Germans became an important ally against the bolsheviks as Finnish soldiers who had been training in Germany – the chasseurs, who came back with their German brothers-in-arms to fight in the civil war. Only 11 days after their arrival at the coastline of Hangö they marched into the capital and declared victory even if the final battles did not end until one month later, on May 15th led by the legendary general Mannerheim.
»The alliance with the Germans helped secure Finland’s independence and the idea was that a monarchy would do the same even if the Finnish law did not quite allow such a change in the constitution. So they chose a form of government from 1772 when Finland was a part of the Swedish monarchy,” tells Meinander.
The Duke of Mecklenburg was among the candidates to the throne. Friedrich Karl of Hessen was a candidate and a sceptic, wishing that the entire Finnish population should support his candidacy. The Danish Prince Axel who was an admiral in the royal navy was also briefly mentioned. The German pressure was strong and the opposition had a hard time being heard, just as the advocates of a Swedish candidate.
“If they must have a king they can take the prince of Wied-Albania who is used to being removed and used to the idea that a bullet is already cast for him. They should understand that a bosch king in the year of 1918 won’t be long-lived,” a Finnish diplomat in Paris wrote ironically.
A Bosch king, a German, was nevertheless elected on October 9th when the Landgraff of Hessen was chosen with a small majority, despite the fact that the social democrats had long fled the country or been imprisoned.

The crown as a sketch.  A Finnish jewelry company later made a replica.

The timing, however, could not have been worse. Only a month after Friedrich Karl’s election Germany lost the war and their own imperial rule was abruptly put to an end. None of the Western victors had an interest in recognizing the German king and the course was subsequently changed. The king was no longer going to be invited to Finland, the government had to step down and politics should no longer be based on friendly turns.

On December 14th Friedrich Karl retired after just two months on the throne. General Mannerheim became head of the national assembly and the Finns chose their first president, the lawyer K.J. Ståhlberg. As a republic the country ended up with a modern, an entirely different identity, which was in line with the constitutional changes of 1906 when the nobility lost its power and women the following year could run for parliament as the first in the world.

“When the Norwegian monarchy was born in 1905 it happened under completely different and calmer circumstances, and with help from the Danes. In theory, a Finnish monarchy could have worked as a counterbalance to the revolution. The Russian empire had vanished but the Austrian, German and Osmanian monarchies were still the main governmental form, so the idea wasn’t completely wrong. It is only now that we can see things in a different light,” says Meinander.

When Finland celebrated the centennial of their independence, the king’s great-grandson was not invited “if I should try to take power,” jokes Philipp of Hessen who spent the day in Spain with his wife Laetitia and their three children.

The first time the prince was invited to the cold north by the people who could have been his Finnish subjects, he was 32 and a photographer assistant in New York. The newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat had invited him to the capital in a ‘what-if’ experiment as King Väinö. With photographers following his foot steps the king visited kindergartens, and met with cultural personalities and he was even photographed in front of the czar throne at the National Museum, which is the only existing throne outside of Russia.

“Today monarchy has changed. The royals are representatives for their countries and a continuation of their long histories. They are also fantastic for tourism – like a corporate identity!”

A few years ago prince Philipp moved from New York home to Hamburg where he works with his wife in her online company, Niche Beauté.
“ I grew up in Germany where there’s no longer a monarchy so I’m quite happy with the way things turned out. The Spanish royal house, the Dutch and the Danish – they are all good friends,” tells the prince who has just been to Denmark to visit Prince Joakim. The Greek king is also a relative.
“Somehow we’re all related,” laughs the prince who has photographed some of his blue blooded relatives for the American magazine, Vanity Fair.
The Finnish chapter is one of many flamboyant tales in his family, which includes Sweden’s King Fredrik who ruled in the 1700s and who was also Landgraff of Hessen.
Friedrich Karl’s wife, Princess Margaret of Prussia, a grandchild of England’s Queen Victoria, gave him six children. When the eldest two sons died in the First World War and the following heir to the throne did not have any children Philipp of Hessen would have been next in line.
“Instead he had a crazy life! From being a member of the Nazi party to becoming a prisoner of war and losing his wife in a concentration camp. I was ten when he died so I never got to ask him about his life,” tells the prince about his grandfather and namesake.
The gap between being a monarch and working with images is not as wide as one could think.
“Today monarchy has changed – it is completely different than in the old days. The royals are representatives for their countries and at the same time a continuation of their long histories. They are also fantastic for tourism – like a corporate identity. The Danes have made millions with Queen Margrethe,” tells Philipp of Hessen with a laugh.

When the Finnish monarchy was cancelled, the king’s treasures were sold at the department store, Stockmann. Some of the furniture was bought by the publishing tycoon, Amos Anderson. The would-have-been royal castle, became the presidential palace and the king’s grand villa was sold to Italy who still use the building as their embassy. In Kemi in Lapland where gold washers still find real, Finnish gold a jewelry company has made a copy of the crown which is exhibited as a curiosity.    ©

“King for two months” is exhibited at the Museum Milavida in Tammerfors/Tampere from February 9th – October 28th. At the National Museum in Helsinki ‘The story about Finland’ shows the country’s transformation into an independent nation.

Uniforms for the employees at the court – a fisherman from the former Imperial fishing lodge at Langankoski, Eastern Finland and a driver.  © Museiverket

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Easy riders

Notebook

Photo Richard Juilliard

Athletes are always fascinating to interview as they push their limits to achieve their goals. Not least the show jumpers who literally fly over the highest fence. 

By Camilla Alfthan

 

AS A MEMBER of the national, French équipe for over 20 years, Roger-Yves Bost is one of the most popular characters of the show jumping caravan who grew up at Haras du Bruly near the Fontainebleau, where his family has run an equestrian centre for decades.

What singles you out is that you have a style apart.. That’s what’s good; that I’m different from the others.
We all ask the same thing of the horse when we ride, and I acquired a style when I was a child competing on poneys. I had to win and I rode all sorts of poneys, so I tried hard to win. And before that I tried to emulate many different riders. That means that I have a style that is mixed.

And different.. My style depends on the horses. I try to have a large assortment of different techniques that I can change if I need to. The horses are very important, they are the ones who have to jump, so I must not annoy them, I must do my best so the result is the best.

2016 Rio Olympics Roger-Yves Bost (FRA) of France riding Sydney Un Prince. REUTERS/Damir Sagol

You’re always very concentrated on the course..Yes, I walk the piste for quite a while. I’m concentrating on the objective and each obstacle, one by one, and that makes all the difference. I’m very focused and that’s very important in the ring, to concentrate on each obstacle and not touch the bar. To ride well so the horse will give more. I have a lot of technique. It’s like a pianist who is all alone and who has a lot of experience. My repertoire comes all by itself when it is needed and I can concentrate on the ride and the strides.

“It’s like a pianist who is all alone and who has a lot of experience. My repertoire comes all by itself when it is needed and I can concentrate on the ride and the strides.”

How important is the horse compared to the rider? That is difficult to say. There are highs and lows to an extent that is different from any other sport. If you have a good horse it is easier, perhaps you can say the horse is 70 per cent of the performance and on a bad day it is fifty-fifty.

Who influenced you the most? I had many different trainers, Robert Breul who taught me the basics and Jean d’Orgeix who had a lot of technique and who taught me a lot about the turns, Nick Skelton I watched a lot. My favorite is Nick Skelton with the mind of Ludger Beerbaum. There’s Rodrigo who is also exceptional.

There are so many now. It changes every two to three months and level goes up all the time.
You really have to be motivated as it changes very quickly and the young riders at 25-30 are very strong, they have a physical shape that makes it easier for them. We who are older have the experience but we have to continue to work to stay on the top.

Why this change? There’s more more money in the sport and everything goes faster. People arrive with horses that are better and everything is prepared in a better way. Their training is better, so generally, everything has gone up. On the other hand, if you were good ten-fifteen years ago you can still be a good rider, age is not a problem. ©

Not competitive like most girls are

The daughter of Michael Bloomberg was put into this world to be around animals – and to stand up for them, she tells.

” AS A KID I loved the freedom to get out and get dirty and run around with my friends. Once I started competing I really loved the competition side of it. If I didn’t compete I wouldn’t ride. I don’t do this for fun, I do this because I want to compete,” told Georgina Bloomberg between classes at the EEM Masters in Paris.

You were very young when you started..I was four when I started riding and six when I started competing.  My older sister rode a little bit and that’s why I started so early because I wanted to do everything that she did. 

What was it about the sport that seduced you? The competition side of it. I think you have to enjoy it to a certain level in order to do it well but for me I loved the competition, and I fell in love with that, and wanted to ride more and more. I’ve always been competitive when it comes to sports. I’m not competitive in the ways most girls are, but for sports I am. I love all sports. To be able to work hard at something and then go in the ring and have a pay off.

“I love all sports. To be able to work hard at something and then go in the ring and have a pay off.”

Are you a bad loser?(Laughs) Honestly, I think in this sport you can’t be a bad loser because you are going to lose so many more classes that you will win. And I think that is one thing that the sport has actually taught me – to become a very gracious winner and loser. I think it is so much harder to be a gracious loser but I’ve gotten a lot of practise in the last few years. I think that you have to appreciate the good days, but really not let the bad days get to you so much.

What is your first memory ? A walk trot class. And I could not get my pony to trot. I was six. I remember being so angry about it. I could only go on from there. I only did hunters when until I was 18. And then I decided that I wanted to start jumpers. It was the challenge of something new, and I thought there was more potential in it. My first major competition was the Young Rider competition – that’s what made me fall in love with show jumping. I wanted to make the US team and come to Europe and show.

How many Grand Prix have you since won? I don’t know. But I’ve kept most of my trophies and I have no shame in displaying them in my home because I’m very proud of them.

You’ve had some really bad falls, and yet you came back. Yeah, the last couple of years I’ve had a lot of injuries and bad luck, horses going lame. The last couple of years have been a bit of a struggle. But I decided to do back surgery which was a very important decision for me – to say that I want to come back stronger and give this sport one more shot.  I’ve had a lot of bad falls, but you know; it’s something I’ve never been scared of, and I always wanted to come back.

That’s what’s interesting about horse riding – you always get back in the saddle. Yes. It doesn’t always make a lot of sense. But we do. It’s a risk that we know is there when we get on a horse. If you start getting scared then it is time to do something else. But I never let it get to me too much. I’m not done in this sport yet and I want to give it another shot. It’s gonna take more than a few broken bones to keep me out of it.

“It’s gonna take more than a few broken bones to keep me out of this sport.”

You’re father always supported you. We’re always very supportive of each other though we do different things. He’s obviously not a horse show person and he doesn’t quite understand the sport. Hopefully, if we bring the show to New York he’ll come and see it at this level, which I think he hasn’t before.

It could also be great for the city. I’d love to get people who usually don’t get a chance to see show jumping to see our sport so they’ll understand it is not an elitist sport. It is a real sport. It’s gonna get us a lot of exposure, and show people how hard we work and how exiting this sport can be. You make a lot of sacrifices.  You’re around six days a week and it is very time consuming when you travel a lot.

You ride mostly in the States. Yes, but before that I went to Germany in the summers and that was a great expercience. I enjoy riding in Europe, even if it is a small show, to see how well run they are, and also to be able to ride against people who’m I’ve admired.

Do you have a favourite? I think Marcus Ehning is an amazing rider, I love his style, and he’s a great fighter. He’s very quiet on the horse and let’s it jump. You don’t notice his body or hand, he’s very elegant.  I have to be a little careful with the horses I choose. I have to be able to get along with them, and they can’t weigh a ton, because I’m on the smaller side. I go to the gym so that I can be as strong as possible.

So bonding is also a part of it? Yes, I get very attached and I form a relationship with them.  And I always think I don’t have a lot of natural talent. I have to work very hard at it. So for me, I really have to forge a relation with the horses. Then, unfortunately, you get attached and if you’re supposed to sell a horse it is hard. I always have troubles letting go.

Does it happen a lot? Yes, we have to sell a little bit in this business and I have to make some sort of money so we’ve sold a few. But some that I should have sold I did not. 

You’ve said you’d never spend a fortune on a horse. I like buying horses and do all the work myself.  A lot of people think,  ‘You can afford to go out and buy an expensive horse, why don’t you?’ For me, morally, I’d never want to do that. Just because you can afford something it doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy it. I want to work my way to the top in this sport, and not buy it.  I’m also doing a lot charity work to know what that kind of money could do for something else. So I can’t ever justify spending that on a horse.

“Just because you can afford something it doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy it.”

Your father’s position (in politics) also makes it difficult. Exactly. And just for myself I morally can’t do it. And if that will keep me from the top of the sport; so be it. I’d rather feel good about myself as a person than reaching the top as a rider. 

You also love dogs..I have five rescue dogs and I also just rescued a pig. (Laughs) He’s very smart, and he’s house clean. He was at a compound in New Jersey and needed a home so I adopted him last week.

Tell me about the books that you wrote. There’s a little bit of me in every one of them. The Tommy character most people find is me, and I’m honoured because she is the most down to earth, hard working and kindest person.  But it is about a general experience of things that have happened to me or friends.

What were your reasons for writing them? When I was approached about this, I first said no, because I never really enjoyed writing. But when I thought about it, I realised it was the first time I’d have the opportunity to write about something I know so well and love. And when you’re doing something that you love it’s actually fun. I did it with a co writer, and the first book was the hardest. But then we came up with the characters, and after that, it all came very naturally. I knew where they’d go from there and what would happen to them. Every book gets easier and easier. We’re in talks about making a television series.  There’s a little bit of romance, and a little bit of everything.  It’s about teenagers in the horse show world and the things and the drama that happens there…The horses have given me so much, so it is my duty to stand up for them. I work for the USPCA,  doing a lot about horse slaughter. 

Which is a big problem. Most people don’t even know that it is a problem. People don’t assume that it exists. They’re taken to abattoirs Canada and Mexico. We treat these horses so well and people don’t always see the other side. Even these horses here can end up in slaughter. So it is our duty to follow a horse once you sell it to keep up with where it is going, and who is going to get their hands on it. For me, the work I do with animals is the only thing I know I’ll do for the rest of my life. It’s my biggest passion. I know the reason I was put on this earth is to do this. ” ©

Georgina Bloomberg on her favourite mare, Juvina. “In competitions, there’s no space for bad losers. Because you always lose more classes than you win,”she says.

Ludger’s Many Likes

IT IS the horses who helped the German super star, Ludger Beerbaum secure his numerous trophies – three Olympic team gold medals (1988, 1996 and 2000) an individual Olympic gold from Barcelona in 1992 and two team gold medals from the World Equestrian Games to name just a few.

You say you don’t have a favorite horse – but which are in the top ranking? Ratina, Classic Touch, Gold Fever…..these are for sure my peaks. But then I also had Priamos, who was a really nice horse that I only had for two and a half years. Even a horse that was a bit a second rate; Figaro’s Boy, was nice and competitive. I don’t know how many horses I’ve had during the years. 250-300 when it’s just the ones I’ve been on to international competitions.
I’ve been lucky to have many good ones. If I just see all the horses I won championship medals with, even Glady’s, Champion de Lys, they were all very different. If a horse has courage and character, and it’s competitive you can live with different types of horses and blood. In the end; if they have a good heart and a good will, then that’s what is important.

Which is more important, your horses or your family? The family is number one, the horse is always second.

“I’m also not in love with my horses. I like them. Some people say, I love, I love, I love….but it is not the German way of interpreting feelings.”

I’m also not in love with my horses. I like them. Some people say, I love, I love, I love….but it is not the German way of interpreting feelings. I really like my horses and I’m a lucky guy to find a way and a job in this sport. But love and families are a little bit different.

Your family and the horses are nevertheless inseparable. My family is a part of the game. We live in the yard, so they are pretty much involved. But the travelling is not easy. I can’t go to all the shows. You have to have priorities and make compromises. The show is a vagabond life. In the end it is the family first, and the horses are a job.

Would you want your children to follow your path? I’m not sure, to be honest, if I want my kids to follow my path. Especially for the girls. It’s a hard life. If they really want to do it I wouldn’t say no. But I would definitely never push them.

How did you get into this sport in the first place? I was always really keen and I loved to go to competitions. When you’re young and you realize that you are becoming successful it’s like a drug; you like what you’re doing. And then once it came to a point where I had to decide whether I wanted to stay as an amateur, so I decided to try riding professionally for a few years. And that was it.
For how long will you go on? I won’t stay in this business forever, like some of these guys who are in their sixties. Because I’d really like to do something else at some point. It will always be something with horses but not riding every week because it gets kind of boring. I have some riders working for me already. I’d like to do a little bit of farming. I have some land in East Germany. I’d like to do some more there. I could do this for another 10-15 years and then it’s time to change. ©

 

Judy Ann & Christian

“We share our horses. Judy is riding a horse for me at this show. I have Taloubet which was her horse before. I have to find out with which rider he has the best results…When you ride in the same class, you walk the course, and you have your way of thinking, you talk about it and try to make a good plan for both of us. If you’re alone it is much more difficult.” Photo C. Alfthan

FOR SHOW jumping’s power couple, Judy Ann Melchior and Christian Ahlmann, the horses are everything. Just as being able to compete in the same shows.

You’re surrounded with some of the world’s best horses. But which horse is your favorite ? Christian Ahlmann: The best horse is the one that does best in the competitions. But the best horse for me is Costa, because he brought me up and he was my first successful horse. I rose to an international level thanks to him and he made me a European champion. I’m really thankful for what he did for me and for my whole career. That is why he is my favorite. For the moment I have Taloubet. He is amazing and perhaps even better but Costa will remain my favorite horse for the rest of my life. Today, he’s on the fields at home with the ponies.

Judy Ann Melchior:  My favorite horse is Levisto. I had him now for 15 years so he’s going towards retirement. I think I have one more year with him. I’ve had other succesful horses but for me he’s really a big friend. He’s easy to ride, he fits well in my system and he’s mentally a fighter; so for me he’s really everything.

How long have you been a couple ? Christian: We’re now together for five years. We know each other from the shows. I’m ten years older. So we were not always on the same ones. Now we are a family. Our boy was born in August. It was a big step to have a child. Now we have a life together. Generally, I think it’s really important that your partner has something to do with the business or with horses; otherwise its going to be pretty difficult in the end.

Judy Ann: We’re lucky that we can often ride at the same shows and that we can travel as a family together to do the same stuff.

How did you deal with your pregnancy ? Judy Ann: I stopped riding immediately because I did not want to take the risk. And I started immediately afterwards. We have a maternity nanny who follows us around. In the daytime, she is at the shows with us and in the evening she goes to our hotel.


Christian and Clintrexo Z, photo LGCT

Has it affected the way you ride? Are you more careful ? Christian: I think it is the same. Maybe for Judy it is harder to come back. But in the end you dont think about your children when you are in the ring. You take the same risks and the same horses as before. For me it is for sure like that. And for Judy I think it is the same.

“In the end you don’t think about your children when you are in the ring. You take the same risks and the same horses as before.”

Judy Ann : We don’t ride because we think it is dangerous. For us it is something natural. But I did stop for nine months which interrupted the show rythm. After one month I was doing shows again and I’ve been quite successful. Maybe not competing for the first place but I’ve been placed well in the big classes. But you do loose a lot of rythm in nine months. So it is something you have to build up again. It’s only natural. For every job you have to rebuild after such a break.

Christian: For horses and riders it is the same. If you’re out for a while you’re not a hundred percent on. It takes time to get back.

Will you have another one ? Judy Ann: We’ll have a bigger family but right now it is perfect to just be the three of us. The bigger your family gets the more difficult it gets.

Do you ever fight over your results? Christian : We compete against each other all the time. It doesn’t make us fight, for sure not. I think it is the only sport where women and men compete together.

Judy Ann: When we’re both at the shows you have much more chance that at least one of us was good. So when Christian was riding alone for nine months his results were terrible. But when we’re together there’s alsways more chance that one will win.

“The sport has changed a lot in the past few years. Normally, our base is Belgium or Germany, and we travelled around shows in that area. Now we go to Brazil, to America, to Asia…it is a big difference from a few years ago.”

Christian : We share our horses. Judy is riding a horse for me at this show. I have Taloubet which was her horse before. I have to find out with which rider he has the best results. Sometimes with her, sometimes with me. It’s not really clear from the beginning. Judy has a different way of riding. I ride with much more pressure and my body has much more weight. For some horses it is good, for some horses it’s less good. When you ride in the same class, you walk the course, and you have your way of thinking, you talk about it and try to make a good plan for both of us. If you’re alone it is much more difficult to do it.

Judy Ann : We always talk about the sport and we always train our horses together and the whole logistic side is one. We both know each others situation really well and we know each others horses. Christian has been teaching me.

Christian : I train her more than she trains me but it doesn’t mean that we don’t always talk about it; she asks me and I ask her, it goes both ways. It is really good for both of us.

What do you think about the boys against girls class that was created for this show? Does it help popularize the sport? Christian : It really makes it clear for everybody that we have a sport where it is boys against girls all the time. This is something really special in our sport. We have the same classes and the same competitions.

Judy Ann : For the riders that particular class does not make any difference. But for the audience it is fun. They were very successful at making an elegant show. They have created a lot of interest in the public. It’s a good place for Gucci to come out with its image.

Christian : The sport has changed a lot in the past few years. Normally, our base is Belgium or Germany, and we travelled around shows in that area. Now we go to Brazil, to America, to Asia…it is a big difference from a few years ago. I think the horses can handle the trip really well, they don’t need two-three days to be back to normal. If they don’t know what it is it can be really difficult. If you have a 7-8 year old who tries it for the first time they can get travel illness –  you have to be really careful. The Grand Prix horses have a certain age, they know the circuit and they can handle it well. ©

Interviews at the EEM Masters, Paris

                Judy Ann aboard Clintrexo Z, photo Stefano Grasso

 


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When the London based photographer, Tim Flach, came out with his lavish tome, ‘Equus’, he was compared to some of the greatest equine painters of our times. Modest and unassuming, horses are just a chapter in Flach’s career, though they were always a part of his life.

By Camilla Alfthan

”BOTH MY PARENTS were passionate about horses. My father played polo, just as my brother, and my mother used to hunt. It was very much part of my growing up,” tells Tim Flach during our conversation about horses and photography. Famous for his arresting images of animals Flach’s studio is far from the Noah’s Ark that one might expect. He only has two cats and he never really went riding.

“I was just a child trying to do things told by my step mother, mucking out and cleaning the stables, strewing them the hay; that physical kind of connection.  I was that kind of generation where the kids weren’t given too much opportunity, I was just there to help out. I wasn’t given riding lessons or any of that sort but I always enjoyed being around the horses. I think they are very sensitive to the energy around them and I think that I’m fairly quiet and fairly neutral and I have great respect for them.

The people we rented our house from had a large library with images. The lady there was a world renowned botanist, so seeing all these wonderful creatures and the combination of being on an estate that had a lot of forest all affected the outcome of what I did.”

 A race horse at track work before sun rise.

HORSES IN HISTORY

”One thing about photographing horses like the halter horses and the wild horses that I did so many of in Mongolia, is that it’s not necessary to ride them to be observant of them. There’s a difference between riding the horse as a pleasure horse and the history of the horse which is a lot less sympathetic to the animals’ interest.

We think of pleasure horses as extensions of pets. But they were used in situations where people would wear a horse down as they do a car today. So the sentiment we have today is hugely different than a generation back. Horses are so deeply rooted in our culture with the the paleolithic case of Portugal and Spain. If we look to art so much is related to the equine subject because they were hunting the horse for food but they also knew the anatomy of the horse better than we do because they were dismantling it and using every part. Then equitation came about from the Corinthians to the Athenians..

If you’re interested in culture you cannot separate the horse and us. It’s such a deep heritage, so rooted in our history.

Today you don’t see it so much in modern art and that’s a huge change.  And yet our language is still peppered with equestrian references whether we’re talking about horse power, or whatever; we’re constantly using words that are linked to the equestrian universe. We almost forget it as it is such an important part of our language.”

 The horses of the vikings still roam freely in Iceland. 

AUTHENTICITY

”Today, we’ve got more understanding of animals than ever before. We can watch rhinos at night, a hunting sequence of wild dogs until the final kill from some micro light. We know animals better than we virtually ever have before. But, in actuality, we have never been more separated.

We know animals better than we virtually ever have before. But, in actuality, we have never been more separated.

It’s a a conumdrum that may come to haunt us because as we separate ourselves from the horses in our mechanistic lifestyles who knows what it sets up? And because it is all happening so fast we can’t know the consequences of it.
My seven-year old son going to the i-pad and not integrating socially as much as previous generations would have done to go off and play football…We don’t know the consequences of this.

In that sense, the role of the horse is not much different than before. Racing hasn’t changed much. It’s about pleasure that changes the dynamics. There’s the whole thing about the health benefits of owning a dog, or having that sense of freedom that a horse might offer.
There’s a general shift in our understanding of animals in our space.
We’re going through these changes that are unique to our generations. I don’t want to sound moralistic but certainly there are many challenges out there.”

From Tim Flach’s latest book ‘Endangered’.

EQUUS

”When I made my Equus book I decided I’d rather look at the horse than the culture around it, the people elements which are a totally different matter. Though the different breeds of the horse have become cultures in the sense that we shaped them.

We were quite responsible for why we’ve got a chihuahua and a Great Dane and like we speak of genetics, we do shape the form of the horse according to the functions we need them for.

Those who did not suit us like the Przewalskis were pushed away to the Gobi desert. Even the wild mustangs are managed in some way. When they capture them they will release stallions that they want to breed and cull others that are less commercially of interest. When I went to the round ups they put back stallions with nice colour marks.

The dish of the Egyptian halter has become more exaggerated. In the Haflinger story, I went to were the best breeding place. They were quite dark over a hundred years ago and now theyre quite pale because they’re breeding them for aestetics rather than for function. They are still very effective for the mountains, but more to take a tourist up to the mountain than work for a farmer. So my images show how the horse was desired in 2007. In another 50 years it may have moved on again.

I felt the horse was so deeply rooted in our country that I wanted to explore it. Once you start such a journey you trip over things that are interesting. So the question was who would represent the different types of horses and their roles. As a progenitive to a lot of breeds was the Arabs, so I’d start there, and that gave me a lot of opportunities but I also wanted a general overview and represent certain areas.
I was playing it by inquiery of what people would tell me and some of it was led by an overview.
I tried to cover all the areas that I thought would represent the Arabian horse. I wanted to go back to where the horse came from, rather than photograph it in Poland or Sweden, though, ironically, the bloodlines have come back recently from Europe. The way the horse was formed by the desert, its hooves..I wanted to show that and it felt right. I wouldn’t photograph a poor Shetland pony in a hot climate where they have all sorts of challenges given their double coats.”

 

FRAGMENTS OF TIME

”One of the roles of photography should be to extend the experiences around the subject matter. That could be several different respects. It could just be geographical. Who would go to Shetland to see the pony, or who would go to Norway and see a fjord horse? So that is one thing; to show evidence of the landscape that molded the shape of those breeds.
The other thing is sometimes to show details that you couldn’t normally observe – catch a movement to suspend a moment in time. It might be looking at a horse shaking and the way the hair moves. It could be a horse jump – or in the case of the Arab going down the track, you can observe the way the bit is in the mouth. Certain details because it is captured.
But it is also the idea of the stylization. I’m not trying to compete with event photography but to shift the experience which, ironically, because it is shifting away from the familiar, engages you.
So photography’s role should be to engage the viewer by fragmenting a moment of the time or simply the detail that can be brought through.”

Dogs followed Flach’s equestrian tome.

GOING OUT AND SHOOTING IT

”I normally pick my subjects and I may have four days to do them, and then I distill it down to a few images so it explains something. So if I go away to India to do the Marwari horse, I want to show its ears and a few other details that explain the uniqueness of that breed. So whether I go to Rajasthan or just outside London I have to limit it in practical terms.

I probably shoot two or three pictures a day that I end up using. Sometimes six pictures a day or just one.
I can’t afford the luxury to not use them at all. There might be occasions where I’d like to go back and revisit to take it further but not often. It’s not like I shoot thousands of pictures and only select a few, I kind of home in on what I want to do.
My advertising background may have influenced me in the sense that I need to come back with something. The fact that I use flash means I can overcome some of the elements that may have stopped me. I could have a grey day and a rather dull white sky and I could light it to make it a moody sky, so I did use my technical skills to make things go somewhere. Surprisingly the horses don’t react much to the flash. I’m more concerned about flapping or something behind them that they cannot see.

In Mongolia it was just myself and a guide. In the fjords I went alone. I’d been there in the winter, picked my routes because it would be difficult to get around. In Iceland we went with Animal Planet and we had to cover quite a lot of ground without any production, so I took quite a few people out there. Usually I’ll go with one assistant on most of the jobs.  But then when we went to a place like the Emirates a lot of people voluntered to try and corral the horses so you end up with a dozen people for the day who help out, who are linked to the yard or friends of friends.”

Rearing in the desert.

CREATING YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES

”Favorite photographs and favorite times don’t usually link. I remember being with one of the cousins of the maharadja in this crumbled down palace having tea. In Iceland looking at the midnight, photographing horses through icebergs. The cowboys in the Rocky’s having breakfast. Walking 50 miles a day in the Hustai National Park chasing the Przewalski horses because there were no roads. I have different memories not always related so much to the actual pictures.

I think you have to be up for the adventure because that’s part of it all. To create your own experiences that you want to have and allow the opportunity to find new things, really. I so enjoyed meeting the people. Once you start aquiring the understanding it’s great sharing that passion and interest with the people that are passionate about what they do. I always found that electric – being around people who have a passion about something in their life. I always found that so exiting and rewarding.
I found myself talking and having a great time with some sheikh who had to go off to rule some other country in the afternoon; or talking to someone about a trotter, it’s just quite surreal, because it gives you an entry to so many different people that you wouldn’t otherwise have a reason to meet.
I love that chance to be able to meet and have a common ground with people from all over the world and to share something. I was accepted because I shared their passion.”

PEOPLE’S PERCEPTIONS

”Instead of differences I found communalities, they all felt their horse was the oldest and purest. Everyone wanted in a sense to claim their right to a uniquess of their breed. They were so proud of it and of the exponents of their virtues.

When I work with people I like to hear their thoughts about the pictures I take as it is from there that I start to learn things.
I’ll ask someone; ’Tell me what it is that you look for in your Arabian show horse’ and he’ll say; ’I want to see a kind eye, I want to see a muzzle that will fit in the palm of my hands. I want to see the crested neck.’
I ask the question rather than assuming because I dont have much knowledge. So it’s great to hear it from those people who were passionate.
What they desire and what it is that is special to them. If I’ve got to touch other people I’ve got to be interested in what is it that others will ressonate with when they look at those pictures.”

INTIMACY AND UNUSUAL ANGLES

”As an owner of a dog or a cat you have that proximity, you’re much closer. That intimacy – I hope my abstracts create that ambiguity, that they leave a space as well.

In my book, I tried to show the horse in it’s environment, and also, I didn’t show any tack because I wanted to show the horse without making too much reference back to humans.

The horses that wore masks and helmets after anesthesia were more about showing a history and an investment in the horse. The utilizing of the horse, war fare. They’re also ambiguous. I like the fact that you don’t know what it is, the head protector – it looks like he’s going into a boxing ring.”

DEBATES AND WONDERMENT

”There’s definitely a migration of words to images.
Ironically, we started with images from our experiences, and then word became the abstract symbol to interpret it, and now we’re not of the sensuous side of it anymore, we’re going back to images as a kind of idiom that suits the communication age.
Some territories are breaking down where language might get in the way. Though context sometimes is lost and words are needed.

In my early images there was a neck of a horse which was like a mountain. That resonates with me today. I recently had a series published by Stern, and I reworked an image with the knowledge I have now. My skills have moved on since I did Equus. I’m much more able to manage images in different ways so my images are much improving because of that. I feel like I’ve moved along quite a long way since then. I could reinterpret anything I shot.

The photo of the horse in the window in the stable still works for me. The embryo series still are among the images I find interesting. I think when you see it you know the potential. You don’t know until you find it.

The questions is what we do with our continuous isolation from place and nature, and what that sets out in the future.

Pictures are interesting when they bring up different debates. One thing is the wonderment of the horse, and the fact that embryos follow certain patterns similar to other species. So day 35, the embryo almost looks like a human baby. At another level, it points towards the management of the horses, particularily in Arabians or polo ponies, the fact that most commonly transferable single embryos are horses or humans.

It brought up economic debate as well as ethic and the wonderment of the horse. When you get to that they become more interesting. I think my interest has moved in the years since I was doing Equus.
What I find interesting is those debates about how we manage animals. The perceptual questions about what they understand about us.

The questions is what we do with our continuous isolation from place and nature, and what that sets out in the future.  The relationship we have with animals is continuous and something you cant just change in a few generations. The being around animals.
But we are definitely visiting a new period which is very unusual in our history, where populations are huge and we’re reaping our planet on a scale never seen before.
As humans we’re always a derivative of what we take. We can look at nature wishfully and be inspired by it.
Wonderment is very important. I’d like to make images where I catch a meaning with it for a museum where it can be considered. Voices to bear on people out there who are more knowledgeable about this than I am.”

HORSES AND HERITAGE

”Every country has a horse that is very symbolic of their country. And people are passionate about preserving it as something that represents their heritage, whether it is agricultural or something else.

My interest and structure has become more and more inspired by painters and my compositions have changed quite a lot.
It’s quite an honour to be compared to Stubbs, I appreciate his commitment. He spent a lifetime making his works. But it is nice to know that I’m part of continuing this culture of imagery around horses.

I think I tend to look broadly at this culture. The horse in the window with the chestnut coat – I was very much conscious of George Stubb’s Whistlejacket that was an influential painting.
Initially, I wanted to go out in the open where you have the falcon and the camel, the saluki and that whole historical link, to look at that heritage, but because of some events where the horses were moved around in the royal yards, they didn’t have them.

If I’d done what I wanted to do I could have gone on a few more years. I feel I only touched on it. Equus represented a period of two years when I was doing others things, and there were some images that went back some years. I’d love to have spent more time and done something more serious.”  ©

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