Tess Dumon, artist behind the permanent sculpture of Charm Spirit on-display during the King George VI Weekend at Ascot which this year celebrates. The young & beautiful artist talks about how the love for horses and family came together to influence her art.
1: How did the sculpture at ascot racecourse come about? Did you approach the racecourse or did they approach you with the idea.
One of the members of team of the communication agency was a former student at Central Saint Martins, where she saw my degree show, comprising of four horses, who were « flying » around in the main hall of the school. When they decided to build a horse after Charm Spirit, they thought of me! I was thrilled to be part of this amazing however challenging project, and to enter the prestigious world of Ascot. It took endless days of work to make sure the sculpture would feature all the details of Charm Spirit. Ascot and the agency were very pleased with the result!
2: So does the sculpture change along with colors every year?
The sculpture does change colors every year: they dress it with the colors of the winning silks of the previous King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. This year’s horse is the popular Highland Reel .
3: Any other projects that you have taken up or completed with other Racecourses or Stud Farms?
I was commissioned a new sculpture of horse for the Longines international jumping show in lausanne, Switzerland. It should be exhibited in the VIP area, during the show.
4: Your art seems to be multi-dimensional. Do you wish to see your designs commercialised through interiors?
I receive several commissions, many of which are for my outdoor stainless steel sculptures, which are eventually placed in homes. I want my art to be seen as far as possible therefore, I am always happy to discuss ways to commercialise my art.
5: Do tell us more about the horses owned by your family and about your history with horses? Your mother used to show jump, did you as well?
As child, I used to be a very successful show jumper as well as a skier. I had a fantastic horse (Craig Dandy) who later died of a heart condition in his old age. After an unfortunate skiing accident which injured my knees, I chose to give up my skiing and continued to show jump for a bit longer.
6: So who is Tess Dumon, the artist behind the iconic sculpture (at Ascot) of the emblematic Charm Spirit racehorse?
I am a french artist, who grew up in Geneva, in Switzerland. My brother (28 years old) has an epilepsy and is a rebel to treatments. He displayed signs of very autistic behavior, so he was started on horse therapy when he was 14. It is really striking to see the effects of the horses on him: no seizures, very calm and happy. There is a sort of magic here: a communication between the horse and my brother. They speak the same language. I have spent a lot of time watching and trying to assimilate this unique universe my brother built for himself. In my opinion, Horses are very mysterious creatures. It’s really intriguing to see my brother’s interaction with them.
My mother got severely injured in a horse riding incident, 3 years ago, during a jumping show. One would think she would never get back on the saddle again, but that was one of the first things she did when she was able to be on her feet again. Although shed id give up show jumping, she pursued other forms of sport with horses such as dressage. This is, this kind of addiction to horse riding and being around horses that strikes me and that I try to render in my work.
Horses are very noble and mysterious creatures. When I was young my grand mother used to tell me that the most difficult things to draw in art were hands and horses. I always keep this sentence in mind when I make a horse, as a sort of challenging motto.
My studies have really broadened my practice to new media and horses are an ongoing project, as I will always see the elaboration of a horse as an hommage to the relationship between my silent brother and his horse, and to inform more and more people about autism awareness and horse therapy.
7: Finally, are you planning to go to Ascot during the King George weekend to see your sculpture? And do you have a favourite for this year’s race?
I am definitely planning to visit in the King George stakes and visit the High Reel dressed Charm Spirit sculpture.