'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Phar Lap

One of New Zealand's favourite pastimes is the horse races. And one of the most famous NZ-born race-horses was Phar Lap (1926 -1932).

This warty, gangly, chestnut horse had an unusual life and you can read about it here if you wish. He died suddenly under mysterious circumstances, possibly arsenic poisoning by an American gangster mob, but had also also been shot at (and missed) one time earlier in his career. Later that same day he won the Melbourne Stakes, and three days later the Melbourne Cup, so it can't have worried him much.

He had a huge heart, literally. An average horse's heart is about 3.2 kg, but Phar Lap's weighed a massive 6.2 kg. It now resides in the National Museum of Australia, and is the most inquired-after exhibit there, according to Wikipedia. His hide has been stuffed and is on display at the Melbourne Museum, and his skeleton is usually on display at Te Papa in Wellington, NZ. And that is where I saw it and was quite intrigued by the whole story.

I have produced a four-colour limited edition print series in honour of this wonderful old creature. But I wonder if sometimes he thinks ' Oh I wish I could pull myself together!'


  1. Obviously I knew about Phar Lap but I didn't know all the facts in your post.

    Pull himself together. Oh Katherine....!

  2. Out of interest, Phar Lap's skeleton has recently left New Zealand for the first time since 1933. It has joined his hide in the Melbourne Museum and will be there until February. Te Papa has loaned it to help Melbourne celebrate 150 years of the running of the Melbourne Cup race. Unfortunately the heart stays in Canberra because it's too delicate to move.