Martin Usborne’s key interest is man’s relationship to (other) animals. Although his imagery is sometimes dark – capturing the way in which we silence, control or distance ourselves from other animals – his pictures strive for a subtle humour. Martin often undertakes editorial or commercial commissions and his work is regularly featured in international magazines and has been seen in group and solo shows around the world as well as in the National Portrait Gallery London. He has had four books published. Martin lives and works in London. He studied philosophy and psychology and then 3D animation before finally settling on photography. He is currently spending a year to see how many animals he can save in 365 days. Read the ongoing blog here. He hopes for this to become his next book. Today we take a look at Martin’s series titled Where Hunting Dogs Rest.
Where Hunting Dogs Rest
Every winter, throughout rural Spain, up to 150,000 Spanish hunting dogs are abandoned or killed at the end of the hare-coursing season. Those dogs that are too slow or are too old or simply too expensive to feed are disposed of by unscrupulous hunters looking for a faster replacement. Spanish hunting dogs come in various forms but are most typically a type of greyhound called Galgos, that are prized for their speed and ability to chase hares across the plains, or a smaller and stockier breed called Podencos used to hunt in more hilly territory.
This book documents those hunting dogs that have been picked up by charities and who have found a place to rest in the rescue centres. The book also shows the landscapes in which other less fortunate hunting dogs find a different kind of rest: by the sides of roads, deep ravines, wide rivers, edges of towns, empty car parks and harsh plains.
The images are shot in a style that references the tone and mood of Velazquez who painted during the early 17th century when hunting dogs were treated with great respect. To kill one was a crime met with serious punishment. Now the dogs have fallen from grace. The photographs aim to show both the classical beauty of these animals but also the ugliness of their modern situation– their bodies are weakened, the expressions are fearful, their postures uncomfortable and yet they have somehow have an echo of elegance and grace. The landscapes appear romantic and beautiful and yet, burdened by the abandonment of so many dogs, have an eerie emptiness.
To view more of Martin’s work please visit his website.