Despite spending her early years surrounded by horses, Roslyn Nolen never really embraced the experience of riding, her fear getting the better of her. It wasn’t until her nephew, Luke Nolen, was given the opportunity to ride Black Caviar that she rekindled her connection with horses and began to paint them. In her Equine series, Roslyn effortlessly captures the majestic beauty and mystery of the equestrian world.
What is your earliest (childhood) memory of horses?
I remember following my father around the stables and being conscious of not getting too close to the horses. My father was a horse trainer who constantly had young horses in his care and he was ever vigilant in not letting us near them. Early mornings were always enjoyable, smelling the molasses and anticipating the mixed feeling of awe and fear around the horses.
What does riding or being with horses mean to you?
As a young girl I was a fearful rider and never really embraced the experience of riding. As an adult, spending time with horses conjures a very different response. I now have a different reality and connect in a more engaged manner. I see them as soulful, protective and ever powerful.
What have horses taught you the most?
Horses have taught me that they understand so much more than the naked eye sees. They are incredibly insightful, respectful and perceptive.
How did the “Brumby Series” come about?
I spent three years in the Tanami desert and there were bands of wild brumbies out there, majestic and beautiful. Years later, a girlfriend suggested I look at Nick Leary’s brumby series. I instantly fell in love with them and ended up collaborating with Nick in my last Solo Exhibition titled “Brumbies and Other Breeds”. He generously allowed me access to some of his imagery.
Recently I took a trip to outback Northern Territory, Australia, purely to photograph and observe the behaviour of wild brumbies. It was a cathartic experience and one that will stay with me forever. Observing a stallion, so watchful and asserting protective authority over his band of horses is powerful. These brumbies have had little, if any, human contact so to see them in their truest form was extraordinary. I was fortunate to share this experience with Journalist and brumby activist, Mae Lee Sun.
What was the most challenging part of this project?
My initial response would have to be the heat, but my most memorable one was being chased by a scrub bull. They are enormous, threatening and powerful and not easy to evade in this vast country with little access to protection. The horses anticipated the noise of the open jeep and ran from it, the scrub bulls ran towards us.
What was the most rewarding part of this project?
Knowing that I experienced something so intensely beautiful and that I can share it in my upcoming Solo Exhibition through my art, written language and song.
What painting in your collection are you most proud of? I would love to hear the story behind this image and why you love it so much?
This is a difficult question to answer but I would have to say “Trooper” (painting featured below).
Trooper was on the way to the knackery and it was fortunate that Mae Lee Sun rescued him. He now lives with a herd of domestic horses. He is adored by all who know his story. I love that his image adorns the wall of an appreciative family. He was given a second chance and he has touched so many lives as a result.
I depicted Trooper, using a ball point pen, which took many hours and it is incredibly gratifying when you step back and see it in its completion. The challenge with ball point pen is that there is no room for error. Once an incorrect mark is made, you either have to incorporate it or start again.
I love this painting because Trooper is looking at the viewer up close and straight on. It shows his power, strength and sense of belonging.
What is it about equines that you love painting?
I love engaging the viewer to get a real sense of each individual horse. Apart from the personality of the horse, I have such an appreciation of the muscle structure, shape, form and anatomy. Exploring the many variants in composition and depicting the beauty – which is so eminent in these ever powerful creatures – inevitably brings a great sense of connection.
How would you describe your painting style?
Contemporary in application and composition.
What medium do you use?
Generally mixed medium (acrylic paint, ink, charcoal, graphite and conte), printmaking – dry point and copperplate etchings, ball point pen and this year I am going to explore charcoal again. In my late twenties I used the medium extensively with my portrait paintings and would like to explore the use in my equine work. I enjoy using various mediums, with the inclusion of textiles. My clothing line comes under my tOZZLEY Label and my equine images are screen-printed onto t-shirts.
To view more of Roslyn Nolen’s paintings, click here.