Aldergrove Star

Artists proud to be 'Horsing Around Langley'

Vivian Harder unveiled her painted horse for the Horsing Around Langley art project at her Thunderfoot Studio in south Aldergrove last week. - KURT LANGMANN PHOTO
Vivian Harder unveiled her painted horse for the Horsing Around Langley art project at her Thunderfoot Studio in south Aldergrove last week.
— image credit: KURT LANGMANN PHOTO

One of the completed "Horsing Around Langley" horse statues was unveiled last week at Thunderfoot Studio.

Local artist Vivian Harder was commissioned by the Township of Langley to paint one of seven life-size fiberglass horses, with a theme of scenes from rural Langley.

Her original design has farms, flowers, vineyards, hot air balloons, cyclists, trees, river activity, and more, which are all wrapped together by ribbons. The ribbons, explains Harder, symbolize the often-weaving roads of rural Langley.

"They are ribbons of roadways, and I was really pleased that they also let me paint the 'rainbow' mane and tail on my horse, as I had submitted in my drawings," said Harder.

The Horsing Around Langley project is the brainchild of Carla Robin, who helped win a provincial cultural grant in connection with the B.C. Summer Games hosted by Langley last year.

"It's a seeding project, to raise funds for the Langley Arts Council. They bought seven horse 'blanks' which were then sold for $10,000 apiece to sponsors," said Harder.

Artists were then invited to submit their ideas for painting the horse blanks, which were juried. Harder's submission was accepted and matched with the Township's Rural Langley project.

"The only thing they changed was the bridge in my drawing, because that wasn't rural enough," said Harder.

Harder, who also contributed to the colourful map on the wall of Langley Tourism, didn't want to mimic the grid style of the tourism map on the horse, so she came up with the idea of using ribbons to symbolize the roads.

Harder estimates that she has put in 200 hours over six weeks to paint her horse, and receives a small honorarium for her work, but most of the money goes to the arts council.

As for the horse's installation in the community, Harder says she doesn't know its ultimate destination, but it, along with the other six horses, will be put on display at Willowbrook Mall in January and February.

"They will all be clear-coated for outdoor display, and mounted on bases for their installations."

Harder graduated from University of the Fraser Valley's graphic arts program in 1992, but says she found the computer-based work of designing logos and the like too limiting. Over recent years she has concentrated more on her vivid paintings — often of horses, "funky cats" and other creatures and landscapes — at her home-based studio.

Harder lives on a small farm in rural Langley with her husband and many beloved animals. She belongs to the Backcountry Horsemen of B.C. and the Vintage Riders Equestrian Club. She is an enthusiastic member of the Fort Langley Artist's Group, as well as co-founder and organizer of the popular Langley Art Studio Tour. Her work has been featured in many gallery shows and festivals and her paintings are enjoyed in private and corporate collections in Canada, the United States and the U.K.

As Harder says: "I can look out at my back fields on a rainy day and where other people might just see a dull grey scene, I see deep cool blues, warm glowing yellows and glorious mauve-shaded clouds set against a slightly shimmering sky. I feel compelled to paint what I so vividly see in my imagination, playing off what is real and then dramatizing it with brilliant color, swaying movement, and impressionistic lighting."

For more on Harder's studio see website: http://www.thunderfootstudio.com/home.html or call for an appointment to view: 604-856-4433.

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