The Gift Horse


A Trillium Studios Production

In the fall of 2015, Rick and Laura Brown of Handshouse Studio put up a poster for a new class at MassArt—the objective—to research, design and build large scale wooden models of the Trojan Horse based on text, historic images and interpretation of the mythic narrative of the Trojan War. The drawings and working models generated from the class will be used as studies for the future full scale wooden horse to be exhibited in a world class museum.

The Gift Horse, a 54-minute television documentary, will follow Rick, Laura, and their students as they discover who built the Trojan Horse, where, why, and how it was built. They learn that Greek commanders capable of using klemmata (“thieves of war”), deceptive strategies, were highly celebrated. Odysseus, often known as Odysseus the Cunning, is said to have originated the idea for the Trojan Horse, one of many examples of brilliant subterfuge in the ancient world. As the Browns’ team digs deeper into this history, they learn how to incorporate this type of empathic deception to the design of the Horse.

The project will take the team far from their starting point in the classroom at MassArt in Boston. At the archaeological site of Troy in Turkey, the students will measure the walls and gates of the old city in order to find the size—and thus the human capacity—of the Horse. On the shores of Greece, they will see how the Ancient Greeks bent their boats with fire and rope. Using all of this information, the Browns’ team will recreate the full-scale Horse at a site in Greece, using the traditional tools and techniques of the time, and in the style of the original makers. Each day they build, they discover some facet of Greek history, culture, technology, ecology, and religious beliefs that would have shaped the thinking of the original builders of the Horse.