After the initial Sable Island show at the studio on the 18th and 19th of June, Pamela Smyth, from the Oceanside Star came by the Studio and then wrote this article in the local paper. Thanks so much Pamela!
(One quick note: at the bottom of the article it says the show is only open until July 3rd…but we’ve extended the show: “The Wild Horses of Sable Island” will be open daily at Creekside Studio from 1 – 5 p.m. or by appointment through the summer months. Closed Mondays)
Larson Unveils Sable Island Series in Coombs– Pamela Smyth, Special to the Oceanside Star
Nova Scotia island of shipwrecks also harbours 400 horses
By Pamela Suzanne Smyth, Special to Oceanside Star
Published: Thursday, June 23, 2011
Joan Larson unveiled her Sable Island series at the Creekside Studio in Combs last weekend.
The series follows her equestrian-themed Musical Ride series, released earlier this year.
In 2009, Larson’s passion for horses drew her to the island off Nova Scotia’s southeast coast and home to over 350 shipwrecks and 400 free-roaming feral horses.
The nomadic animals may be the descendants of those left on the island by a British merchant after being confiscated from Acadians by opposing forces. However, given the number of shipwrecks dating from the 1500s, along with former human settlement attempts, theories vary.
By the end of the 16th century, the island, comprising sand, low-growth vegetation and freshwater ponds, is said to have been inhabited by shipwreck survivors, sealers and salvagers.
Since then, horses were periodically removed, mainly for commercial use, but in 1960, the government implemented protection policies.
Once Larson was granted access to the protected historical site, she took a hotel in Halifax and, with three others, shared the $10,000 cost of hiring a charter plane.
“You fly in at the mercy of the weather,” Larson says. “Before we came, there had been six weeks of steady fog. Those booked before us never made it and had to cancel their plans.”
Her planned five-day visit was shortened to two days.
The island, populated by a half-dozen people, has no stores or restaurants. Before landing, a Coast Guard member packed the landing strip. “He drove his truck over it about 20 times,” says Larson.
“There were two buildings open and we stayed in the one for visitors. We had to bring our own bedding and food.”
After settling in, she wandered off on her own. “Standing by a pond, I saw a stallion with his harem. He moved away and fell knee-deep in quicksand. Taking pictures, I sunk in about three inches, then pulled out and backed away. He broke free. Maintaining a distance, I wanted to touch his hair. He came up and sniffed me. I lifted up his long mane and scratched his neck and he loved it. ”
The next day, touring the ponds with a visiting doctor from the University of Alberta, the stallion returned. “This time, he nestled up against me and tried to separate us.”
The doctor teased that the horse wanted the artist to join his harem. Found in several paintings, she calls the four-legged fellow ‘Boyfriend.’
Another memorable experience occurred when a younger stallion approached the camera’s tripod. Cautiously investigating the device, he nudged it a few times and finally sent it to the bottom of the pond.
The Sable Island exhibit can be viewed at Creekside Studio until July 3. You can call the studio toll-free at 1- (800) 251-9246.