A Homage to Rainbow Riders

Rainbow Riders, an organisation offering equine therapy to disadvantaged children, officially closed its doors last week. Deborah Fisher’s recent paintings are a fitting tribute to the animals in the program.

When artist, Deborah Fisher, painted her series of horses and ponies from Rainbow Riders, the Connewarre-based horse therapy organisation, she hoped it would raise awareness about a worthwhile cause that needed support. She painted the works inspired by the animals that have given immeasurable benefits to hundreds of children living with disadvantage throughout the Geelong region. But sadly, Rainbow Riders announced last week that it was closing its equine therapy program due to a lack of funding and “the uncertainty of its lease position”. The farm leased land adjacent to the enormous Armstrong Creek housing development.

Deb Fisher – Baxter of the Rainbow RidersDeborah Fisher, Baxter of the Rainbow Riders, oil on canvas, 2013. Image courtesy the artist.
Deb Fisher – Bonnie of the Rainbow Riders
Deborah Fisher, Bonnie of the Rainbow Riders, oil on canvas, 2013. Image courtesy the artist.

Fisher’s work has been showing at Geelong Gallery in the Selected Works exhibition and is a poignant tribute to a very worthwhile charity which, through its animal programs, has helped children to learn trust and self worth and improve their well being.

“The animals are bomb proof,” Fisher says. “They have helped so many children. I want to honour these beautiful creatures.”

In Fisher’s paintings, she has sensitively captured the character of various animals and depicted them on a plain background – just as famous English artist George Stubbs did in the 1700s. Whistlejacket perhaps the most well known of Stubbs’s horse paintings, shows the horse alone rearing up against a neutral background.

“I like the idea of taking the animals out of any cultural or historical context, to just show them for what they are in their natural state,” Fisher explained. “Even though they can be a bit shaggy and muddy, I want to convey the nobility of the animal itself.”

In Fisher’s paintings, the animal is the focus. Our attention cannot be distracted by landscape, people or superfluous detail. Underneath each animal, Fisher has painted shadows tinged with ultramarine blue to complement the sienna hues and give a more contemporary edge to the work.

The Selected Works exhibition closes this weekend but Fisher has been busily working on a new suite of paintings depicting about twenty other animals at the farm. These are small scale works and will be exhibited at Karingal Gallery in July. Watch this space for a post about this exhibition closer to the date.

Meanwhile, as Rainbow Riders announced its closure, the opening of a new equine therapy centre in Leopold was revealed in the Geelong Advertiser yesterday. The Geelong Equestrian Centre, a 12 ha property is owned by equine vet Dr Kline who states in the paper, “Whoever needs help, whether its horse or human, we want to meet their needs.” So hopefully the disadvantaged children in the region will still be able to experience the benefits of equine therapy and perhaps the animals of Rainbow Riders will have a new home.

Deb Fisher - Patchy of the Rainbow Riders
Deborah Fisher, Patchy of the Rainbow Riders, oil on canvas, 2012. Image courtesy the artist.
Deb Fisher - Jazz of the Rainbow RidersDeborah Fisher, Jazz of the Rainbow Riders, oil on canvas, 2012. Image courtesy the artist.

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