Toni Arden is Paul’s widow.

She runs their photography gallery in a little tiny village called Petworth, in Sussex.

The gallery is down a little cobbled street.

To visit it is like stepping into an episode of The Archers.

Over the years, the locals have been scandalised at some of the exhibits Paul has put on.

Pictures of naked women.

Pictures of carcases.

Pictures of the unsettling images.

Just about acceptable in cosmopolitan central London perhaps.

But this is Ambridge.

To the local old ladies this is virtually pornographic.

In the window, where everyone can see!


Shouldn’t be allowed!

Someone should do something!

For the rest of us however, the unifying feature that runs through everything in the gallery is photographic quality.

Whatever the subject matter, it’s beautifully shot.

And it’s the same with the latest exhibit.

This time the exhibition isn’t held in the gallery itself.

It’s in the stables of nearby Petworth House.

You can imagine in the days before cars, every stately home needed massive stables for all the horses.

It’s an inspired choice.

The photographs are of the local hunt, by Colin Barker.

Dogs, huntsmen, horses, the Sussex Downs.

Each stall in the stables has about ten pictures hung on the walls.

This environment is a perfect choice for the subject matter.

It adds other dimensions to the photography.

Smell, touch, sound, ambience.

So this isn’t just an exhibition of pictures.

It’s a much fuller experience.

The photographs themselves are excellent.

Rather Japanese in structure.

Many of them were taken in winter, so there’s swirling snow, layers of mist.

Whole areas of the picture that appear abstract.

Until a small well-defined image on the other side of the composition makes sense of the whole thing.

There are many impressive photos.

But one that caught my eye was rather strange.

Odd in a way I couldn’t put my finger on.

A tubby farmer was holding his hand outstretched, about head height.

A horse seemed trying to leap at it.

A woman, who had a rope on the horse, was turning away, bored.

A group of cows looked on.

As I looked at it, it all came together in a rush.

The horse wasn’t leaping.

What was in the man’s outstretched hand was a gun.

He’d just shot the horse in the head.

It wasn’t leaping, it was collapsing, like a puppet with the strings cut.

The woman turning away wasn’t bored.

It was her horse.

She couldn’t bear to look.

It was the exact moment that life leaves a living being.

It was the equivalent of the photograph of a Vietnamese interrogator shooting a Viet Cong suspect in the head.

The frozen instant between life and death.

The man hadn’t even had time to move his hand.

It was still where the horse’s head had been a fraction earlier.

All the pictures in the exhibition were good.

But this engaged on another level.

Something deeper than just visual.

It was by far the most powerful picture in the exhibition.

It is an image that will stay with me a very long time.

Toni saw me looking, and looking at it.

She said, “Yes, we weren’t sure whether to include that one in the exhibition or not. We felt it might be a bit too strong for some people.

They might feel it was in bad taste.”

Then she laughed.

She said, “Then I asked myself, what would Paul do?”