The Man & His Muse, Volume 1 Into the Wild with Nick Turner

If the artist Nick Turner has a happy place, it’s probably Iceland. He describes the country as a “studio” of sorts and he travels there regularly for inspiration. Knowing this, Twyla asked Nick if we could journey to this wild and rustic country with him. He graciously obliged, so earlier this fall, we traveled to Iceland and documented Nick at work in the spaces and landscapes where he finds creative bliss. This is the first in a three-part story about this trip and Nick’s artistic pursuits.

It quickly becomes clear as you explore Nick’s body of work that while Iceland may be his studio, horses are his muse.  Nick was born in Boston and spent much of his youth in the Maine countryside, which is where he developed his deep love of horses.  Horse riding was also a great source of solace for the self-described loner while he was attending high school in France.

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“I got branded when I was younger because I wanted to be one of the horses. I wanted to be this animal and kind of got obsessed with that idea.”

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The form of the horse figures strongly in Nick’s paintings, drawings and photography. About the animal, he has said: “From a young age I have felt an understanding and calmness around them. They seem to carry some of the most pure and sensitive emotions of any animal.” In these photographs, we also see how the artist himself plays a key role.  We watch as Nick communes with gorgeous packs of wild horses in western Iceland. He appears nude and exudes something primal, as muscular and as natural as the horses themselves. "I do a lot of self portraiture and self examination with horses or in nature."

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“This is not to be confused with a project about vanity, but more about trying to understand my own personal insecurities and where I am most comfortable.”

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Considering the long-standing dominance of the female nude in both art and popular culture, these portraits of Nick are almost shocking, and certainly surprising, on first glance. Yet, these photographs are not about sexuality so much as they are about self-exploration. Nick is striving to get closer to nature and himself, perhaps even attempting to be submerged by nature completely.

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“I always related more to horses. I’m much more comfortable around them than with people.”

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The photographs capture the beauty and quiet majesty of the horses, but most strikingly, they depict the emotions of the man among them. We see contemplation and calm as Nick explores their habitat. There is joy and abandon on his 

face as he runs with the horses.  There is a sense of unburdening and of simplicity. Among the horses, in the breathtaking landscape of Iceland, Nick Turner appears to be what so many aspire to be— truly free.

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