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Horse Mania 2010, Lexington, Kentucky

In January there was a competition asking for designs to be applied to the surface of horse in the Newmarket Weekly News. This was no normal horse it was a life size acrylic model. I submitted designs and one was selected as the winner. It transpired to be for a project called Horse Mania taking place in Lexington, Kentucky, 'The horse capital of the world'. It had been held previously in 2000 and was so popular with the public, they decided to open the corral again for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games later that year. Horse Mania 2010 promised to be one of the largest auxiliary attractions to the Games, guaranteed to charm and delight a projected 600,000-plus visitors. There were 79 horses decorated by artists; four of them from Lexington Sister Cities, of which Newmarket is one. The horses were placed on plinths all around the town in July and remained there until December, when they were auctioned at Keeneland. The Keeneland Sales is the American Thoroughbred auction house at Keeneland Racecourse. The auction generated funds to support local charities and Lexington's developing public art program.

The prize was to be flown to Lexington to paint the horse with my design, all expenses paid. I was delighted to be informed by the Newmarket Lexington Committee that I had won. Our hosts were LexArts who are both the area Arts Council and Arts Fund, LexArts provides a wide range of programs and services designed to integrate the arts into people's daily lives. I flew out with my art student daughter Amy and we were generously housed on the beautiful Calumet Farm. Calumet Farm has a record history of Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown winners and continues to be unmatched worldwide. A Kentucky artist, Anna Daniel Hall, kindly housed my 'horse' and us in her studio at Artists Attic, Victorian Square, for the duration of the task. My design 'Jockeys' incorporates the racing silks of the owners with horses stabled in Newmarket and requires much attention to detail. It took 180 hours to complete.

The public were able to wander around the studio and talk to us whilst we were painting and we were interviewed for a television program. It has been lovely to be valued for what I do. Not until the horse was finished, did I become aware of the Icelandic Volcano Ash cloud that had stopped flights throughout Europe. For us, the ash transpired to be heaven sent; we were forced to spend a third week exploring Kentucky, which fortunately is an extremely art orientated State and very interesting to explore. It has been an extraordinary experience and the kindness and hospitality of everyone we met was absolutely exceptional.

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