Throughout his career, Joe Fafard has represented everyday aspects of prairie life, experimenting with materials and techniques to explore sculptural concerns such as form, perspective and presence.
He is renowned for his sculptures of cows, bulls and horses, which are often imbued with a sense of personality. Running Horses fuses the artist’s regionalist vision with 21st-century sculpting technologies to capture the essence of the horse as beauty and unharnessed power. With manes and tails streaming behind them, Fafard’s herd of eleven horses seems to gallop along Ottawa’s Sussex Drive towards the city centre.
– Joe Fafard
Although beloved by visitors from across Canada and around the world, the original Running Horses sculpture could not be displayed outside year-round, as it would eventually start showing signs of deterioration. Even with seasonal switching to protect the work from Ottawa’s harsh winter weather, the steel set of horses had changed from its original appearance. Joe Fafard proposed an innovative solution that would allow the sculpture to remain outside permanently by using an aluminium structure and a modified coating procedure.
The Gallery worked with the artist to produce a new, all-weather version, using the original cut-out patterns and the same moulds for the grass-inspired stands. The original set has also been refinished with the new coating procedure and remains available for indoor exhibitions, while the new Running Horses is on permanent view outside the Gallery, where visitors can see these iconic wild horses run free throughout the year.