Sable Island is undoubtedly an interesting place. The tiny island, near Halifax, was immortalized in the based-on-a-true story George Clooney movie, The Perfect Storm, for example, because the area is so treacherous, it’s been dubbed the graveyard of the sea: approximately 400 ships have been sunk here.
There was also a brief attempt of colonization at the end of the 16th century, using French convicts. It failed.
Merchant Thomas Hancock decided to help himself to horses belonging to Acadians in the mid-1700s. He put the stolen horses along with stolen livestock on Sable Island in the hopes of breeding and selling them, but only the horses survived. The 400 wild horses there today are their descendants.
Less than 5 people inhabit the island year round, and people must get permission to visit Sable Island.
That didn’t stop eight local photographers from boarding a crab fishing boat and embarking on a photographic exploration of the legendary island this summer. These eight photographers will be holding a photo exhibition from November 27th-December 4th at NL Canvas.
In addition to the photos on display at NL Canvas, they also have a book for sale in limited numbers outlining their journey. The Telegram’s Josh Pennell contributed the writing for the book.
Sable Island became Canada’s 43rd National Park in 2013, and is well known for being populated by more wild horses than people. There are about 400 free-roaming horses, protected by law from human interference.
These wild horses were the big draw for photographer Stan MacKenzie and the 7 fellow photographers who shared the experience with him. “Of course the magic we all felt having been there sort of came after,” he says.
“Most of us knew each other before the trip either through the St. John’s Camera Club” Stan says, “or via the photography networking world. The Sable Island trip took root on one of my visits to Canso, NS during the summer.”
This was when he asked his brother, a crab fisherman, if he would be interested in taking some photographers out to photograph some of the horses on Sable Island. “Members of the photoclub often get together for photoshoots or boil ups to photograph our beautiful province, but nothing quite like this planned trip.”
And so they’re marking the occasion with a show that showcases each photographer’s favourite pic from the trip.
“The show is at Newfoundland Canvas on Cashin Avenue on Wednesday the 26th, from 6-9pm (the opening) and running until Dec. 4th. There will be eight huge prints on display, and samples of our printed book. Of course, prints can be purchased from any photographer, and contact information will be available at the display, as well as associated web sites for viewing each photographer’s private collection.”
The guys had such a wonderful experience that they printed a book collaboratively, so they could all have a copy of a unique shared experience.
“When friends and relatives saw some of our photos they expressed an interest in the book and maybe getting prints. So basically we just thought we’d share the experience with the public and see what they might feel about the splendor and mystery about Sable Island and the wild horses there. Since it has been designated a national park now there is a lot more interest developing as people are figuring out how they can get there and be part of that experience.”