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Keith Maxwell

PIT PONY, 2016

This piece has developed from a persistent interest in the roles that humans have forced upon animals. The artwork focuses on the different ways we use animals, observing our treatment and expenditure of them. Historical resources document a glib existence for pit ponies, who were transported down to the coal face, and often slaughtered when they ceased to be an asset to man. So accustomed to the dark, that on the rare occasion they were released into the light, it is reported they could not cope and sought the comfort of the shadows.
The ceramic slip casting, combined with woven metal and hessian, suggests both the fragility of a disposable commodity, and the mechanical influence of human intervention. Prior to the use of ponies in the Industrial Age, women and children were required to do this work. The vulnerability of the suspended animal illustrates the aberrant practices that were inflicted upon them, as they were transported vertically down the shaft, blindfolded, and left to hang precariously from a winch.

Slip cast ceramic, copper and hessian.