We have a lot of love for artist Ida Montague, and her brilliant paintings of the fast paced, action-packed game of polo. Originally from Denmark, Ida now lives on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, enabling her to draw on a number of cultural perspectives when constructing her artwork. We caught up with Ida recently and discovered her interest in the equine world developed slowly but surely. Have a read globetrotters…
What is your earliest childhood memory of horses?
All I rode as a child was a push-bike, often without holding the handlebars. I can recall walking home from school in Copenhagen, getting caught up in a crowd of protesters and the Mounted Police. The horses were huge!
What does riding or being with horses mean to you?
Unfortunately I do not ride. My understanding of ‘horsepower’ is through the heavy pedals of a V8 engine. Not long after we married, my late husband John rode a big stallion, many many hands tall, right up onto the veranda enticing me to start learning the skills of horse riding – the horse looked a lot bigger on the veranda than it did in the paddock – I was impressed but I didn’t mount.
How did your specific equine series come about?
My interest to paint horses and that world came into focus slowly. From the Melbourne Cup to country race meetings at the local Towong Cup in Victoria; a G&T in hand at the members bar soaking up the excitement of the day; learning to place a bet on a hopeful winner; but pretty much through my husband’s involvement with horses. From his polo-cross days to live export and a challenging contract to ship a load of unbroken horses and saddles to Tanzania (where profit was only made on the latter!), I have been surrounded by people with a huge passion for breeding, breaking in, racing and owning horses that cost a fortune to keep and train.
In recent years I was introduced to the sport of Polo, as a spectator – I love the fast action on the polo field and the beautiful partnership between pony and rider. I have been lucky to witness Black Caviar’s winning race at Ascot; I visited the stud Juddmonte at Newmarket from where I drew inspiration to the art work Big Daddies 1 and 2; I was a guest of the chairperson of GOFF Ireland; I saw the supreme performance of Adolfo Cambiaso 10 goaler at Cowdray Park in England………BUT my most exciting and utterly memorable time was witnessing the ‘horse whisperer’ Martin Tata in Argentina; it was rather emotional watching the relationship between Martin and his horse, there was such beauty in their connection.
What was the most challenging part of this series?
To depict the sheer excitement and speed of the game of polo and the interaction between pony and rider.
What was the most rewarding part of this series?
Knowing that I had succeeded in the above by the praise received from ‘real’ horse people.
What painting in your equine series are you most proud of? I would love to hear the story behind this image and why you love it so much.
The series of Polo Up Close and Personal 1, 2, 3 and 4 were the first equine works I did. The challenge was huge because they were my first HORSES. Artistically I think they are the best, depicting the drama, showing less detail, strong contrast and composition.
I am also pretty proud of On the Boards because in this large work I was dealing with 4 ponies, 4 men and fast action that somehow had to portray that dynamic.
Up Close and Personal No 1 – this work is my absolute favourite for its composition – it is the only one still for sale from this series.
What is it about equines that you love painting?
It’s simply the challenge of depicting something that is so alive.
How would you describe your painting style?
Colour field (flat areas of colour creating the 3D effect)
What medium do you use?
I paint with acrylic polymer. I also enjoy charcoal and mixed medium (eg. gold leaf) as seen in Nero Played While Palermo Burned
If you’re keen to purchase some of Ida’s artwork, head over to her website: www.idamontague.com
You can also follow her on Instagram @ida.montague.artist