Larson unveils Sable Island series in Coombs

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.

About Joan Larson

I have spent most of my life in the arts industry in one way or another, but it is my passion for horses that has been the primary motivating factor. My first memory is of sitting on the back of a horse (at about the age of 2 according to my mother). It is a powerful, visceral memory that brings back feelings of awe and wonder. I remember feeling like I was sitting on top of the world. I can only guess that this is where my love of horses comes from, but it is this same fascination that lead me to draw them continuously as a child. And that sense of discovery has never ended. When I draw something, I know it from the inside out. At some point in my later teen years, my interest in art equaled the interest in horses. This led me to study at the Banff Centre for the Arts, the University of Victoria and finally at the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Afterwards, my work led me to the graphics industry working in print shops and advertising firms, then to owning and managing a gallery and framing business in California. I have worked as a full time professional artist for 20 years specializing in equine art. When I am asked where I get my inspiration from, my response is "every horse has a story, and it’s my mission, my challenge, to find it and tell it." I have the great honour of a family that has supported my career from the beginning. Firstly with my parents (my original fans), who encouraged me and made my educational choices possible, to my immediate family. My 3 children have grown up in a working studio environment and have helped tirelessly at numerous trade shows and still give their time in support of my endeavors. They are the joy of my life. My husband, partner and best friend, Paul S. Smith is directly responsible for the growth in my artwork. His involvement in the studio has cleared the way for me to focus my time and energy at the easel. His foresight envisioned the Musical Ride Series which, to date is the most significant body of work that I have produced. We are a team. I have had pleasure of traveling internationally to New York, England and China for shows of my work, but no trip has moved me more than my trip to the remote and restricted Sable Island off the eastern coast of Nova Scotia. To sit among the sand dunes and wild horses on that far away, mostly deserted island still takes my breath away. Sable Island has moved inside my soul and my most recent series of paintings allows me to relive my time there. I have an extensive Curriculum Vitae (if you want to see it, email me: joan[at]joanlarson.com) with numerous professional accomplishments and associations. But that is past history and today is what interests me most. As an artist, I believe that I am just now hitting my stride . . . everything so far has led me to the work that I am doing today. When I am asked which is my favourite painting, the only way I can possibly respond is to say "the one that is on the easel." Cheers, Joan Larson View all posts by Joan Larson

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