The silence of dogs in cars

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Dog owners who leave their pooches locked in cars be warned. Artist Martin Usborne's latest works examine the feelings of sadness and dejection experienced by dogs left in automobiles. With emotive (and amusing!) results

Imagine waking up to find yourself locked in a car. The back window is wound down a fraction. The front seats are empty. The radio silent. Only a scruffy old chew toy can assuage the feeling of utter abandonment. You lay your head mournfully on the musty upholstery, getting up only to stare hopefully out of the window.

This bleak prospect, experienced mainly by dogs, sometimes by wakeful children, is the sentiment artist Martin Usborne chose to express for a series of photographs. Having found himself in such a position himself he feels an overwhelming pathos toward dogs in cars everywhere.

“I was once left in a car at a young age,” he says. “I don’t know when or where or for how long. Possibly it was at the age of four. Perhaps it was outside Tesco’s. Probably for fifteen minutes only. The details don’t matter. The point is that I wondered if anyone would come back: in a child’s mind it is possible to be alone forever.”

Click here or on "View Images" for a picture preview

Usborne makes it clear, however, that he was a well-looked after, not at all abandoned child. However, this short experience led to his feeling “a deep affinity with animals” and sensitivity toward their suffering at human hands.

The silence of dogs in cars goes on show at the Little Black Gallery this spring. Usborne admits the series is dark: capturing dejectedness, anger and sadness. What Usborne might not have anticipated is the somewhat comical aspect presenting such blatant emotion on canine faces might inspire. Dog lovers will be moved to tears, but a crueler onlooker may well be amused.

Usborne didn’t frequent supermarket car parks in order to photograph dogs left in cars. He set everything up in a studio with careful planning. He says he even chose cars which “matched the dog”, for maximum impact.

“The camera is the perfect tool for capturing a sense of silence and longing,” Usborne says. “The silence freezes the shutter forever and two layers of glass are placed between the viewer and the viewed: the glass of the lens, the glass of the picture frame and, in this instance, the glass of the car window further isolates the animal. The dog is truly trapped.”

Usborne’s book The Silence of Dogs in Cars was awarded ‘Best in Show’ in the Creative Review  Photography Annual 2012. He was also the recipient of the 2009 Taylor Wessing Award in the National Portrait Gallery for his photograph “Tiger, Rag, Johnny and Emma”.

He lives in East London with his fiancé and their two dogs.

The Silence of Dogs in Cars from 19 March to 27 April at The Little Black Gallery, www.thelittleblackgallery.com

Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea