‘Haircut’ by Jayne Odell FRPS
When Jayne Odell FRPS relocated to Newmarket in 2016, she settled in a house that has a stable at the end of the garden. Stables are no rarity in the town, considered the birthplace and current global hub of thoroughbred horse racing.
But it was this stable in particular that caught Odell’s attention and sparked a change of subject for her photography to equine sports and the people who form that world.
‘Brand new day’ by Jayne Odell FRPS
“I was intrigued and captivated by the sights and sounds of the morning work,” Odell explains. “I started to go out and take photographs out on the heath, capturing atmospheric moments throughout the year. I also started working with the yard that my garden backed onto, taking pictures for them but also pictures for myself of those unseen moments behind the daily routine of horse training in Newmarket.”
Since then, Odell has become known for her work – always in black and white – that revolves around her equestrian neighbours. In 2020 she achieved her RPS Fellowship using a portfolio of work she had built up in the preceding four years. Now, her solo exhibition Time and Motion: Capturing the Lifeblood of a Racing Yard, is running at the National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket.
‘Clockwork’ by Jayne Odell FRPS
Between that 2020 Fellowship and the exhibition lies the gulf of the pandemic: an unavoidable landmark that has caused upheaval in all places. For Newmarket, however, the cyclical wheel of horse training never halted.
“The pandemic affected everybody massively,” Odell says, “but the horses still needed training. Obviously, everyone was very conscious and mindful of the restrictions that were in place, but there was still a routine that had to happen daily.
‘Dust’ by Jayne Odell FRPS
“You know, it’s definitely got a community feel. There are the trainers, the riders, the yard staff, everybody that’s involved with the sport all work together closely and it’s very much one big family. I’ve got to be quite well-known now as the crazy lady out with the camera in all sorts of weather conditions, but it’s been lovely to meet a lot of people and I know a lot of the trainers and riders now.”
Time and Motion – the name a reference to the routine and rhythm of horse racing in Newmarket, and the movement of the horses and those working with them – has had a positive reaction from both inside and outside that community since it opened in July.
For Odell, it is a culmination of years of work, and a reflection of a change of focus in her photography. “I'd like to think initially it was kind of an extension of my landscape work, but bringing the horses into the equation in terms of a subject matter. So I would still take a lot of black and white landscape shots with horses featured, but also, I got really interested in behind the scenes – the people and the work that goes on without you seeing. I wanted to capture those moments in time really, and it has been a privilege to be welcomed into what is a unique world.”
‘Social distancing’ by Jayne Odell FRPS
Time and Motion by Jayne Odell is on display at the National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket until 4 December 2022