The sculptor’s name is Lance Bannister. He was born in Barbados where he currently resides. Lance Bannister is a doctor by profession and is noted in his homeland for creating art from discarded car parts. Some of his other works, including his interpretation of Rodin’s “Thinker” and Jurassic Park, are located in a park called Iron Gardens near to his practice in Barbados.
“Equus”, as the name implies, resembles a horse reared up on its hind legs. The word equus is defined as a genus of animals that incorporates horses zebras and such like animals. The piece stands approximately nine feet tall and is made entirely of welded metal and for the most part is constructed using discarded car parts. The entire work of art has been painted silver and is mounted on a rectangular base that has been so constructed to allow the horse to swivel 360 degrees. It falls under the genre of realism. The piece is undated and is identified solely by an erected metal plate denoting the name of the artist.
The backbone of the sculpture is one inch corrugated steel that has been bent to take the shape of the horse. The underside of the frame is constructed of metal bars which appear to have been auto motive stabilizer bars. The horse’s head is formed using two control arms welded together side by side. The eyes are made of ball joints and the ears are pieces of muffler tubing that have been cut and welded to the control arms. The gaping hole that forms the mouth of the animal has been filled with a crankshaft sprocket that realistically resembles bared teeth. The neck, backbone and tail are made of automotive tappets of varying sizes.
The ribs of the animal are molded from what appears to be varying lengths of trim pieces. These pieces form a rib cage that provides a 3 dimensional aspect to the sculpture. The thighs and buttocks of the horse are constructed again using four control arm pieces welded together. These provide the natural form required at those points. The legs of the horse are made from connecting rods of varying sizes welded together and ending in pistons that form the hooves of the horse. The hooves have been mounted on ball joints to enable slight realistic movement in a light breeze.
It is evident that much thought and planning has gone into the creation of this spectacular piece of work. The pieces have been chosen to complement each other and to provide a realistic dimension to the sculpture that enhances the viewing pleasure of the audience. In the absence of any literature surrounding this piece of work one is forced to examine it from the onlookers point of view.
The horse, throughout history, has been a symbol of freedom, power and strength, speed and agility, transport, beauty and reliability. If we recall in mythology the horse has featured prominently in a variety of ways. Odin’s steed was depicted as having eight legs, Apollo’s chariot was drawn by stallions, the centaur which was half human half horse and probably the most famous was Pegasus the winged horse. In ancient Chinese tradition, the horse’s symbol was one resembling an arrow or spear which symbolized direction and purpose. Egyptian kings owned horses as a sign of wealth and freedom.
The Caribbean is defined by the melting pot of other cultures as its people, from their many backgrounds, influence the evolving of a unique culture of its own. Each island, though different, is joined by a common thread. The horse, I think, brings this common thread to bear. It defines the strength, agility, ability, beauty and the majesty of a people that at one time were slaves.
For me the horse carries a different significance. I am essentially what one would call a car fanatic. I have always been intrigued by their mechanics and the power of their engines. Each part must fit precisely where it was intended to fit. Today, two of the most powerful cars carry the horse as their symbol; the Ford Mustang and the Ferrari line. These cars have been designed with the beauty, strength, speed and power that modern engineering can afford them. The description that is given to these machines is remarkably similar to that of the Caribbean people.
Car parts for me have always simply been used and discarded. Some can be rebuilt but for the most part they are destined for landfill. I find it intriguing that someone could find use for old discarded junk and by taking it a step further to use their creativity to produce such a strikingly recognizable and well-proportioned piece of artwork. I am drawn to the sculpture possibly because it is designed and constructed around something that I find quite relaxing and interesting. I am awed that someone would even think to use material in this way. I am elated that instead of being thrown down to destroy the environment that someone has found a usefulness for waste material to make it beautiful again in a different way.
Equus is by no means a perfect sculpture, nor do I think it was intended to be. It was left in its form to show the molding of its pieces from their origin. The artist has however placed a high degree of significance to minor details. He instead pays close attention to proportioning and adds some realism by including moveable parts. This is evidenced by the inclusion of teeth in the sculpture and the use of ball joints. If one were to examine the symbolism, its very design and construction represents a creativity that is indigenous to the Caribbean. It represents the rising of a thing of beauty from what was once seen as trash.
“Equus” is indeed a Caribbean symbol. Its place among the other works of art in the Caribbean Sculpture Park is well deserved. It is a true representation of the people of the Caribbean region, creative, majestic, powerful, strong but most importantly free.