The Sable Effect Continues, Susan Tooke, 2018

None of us ever know what is around the corner, or what can change our life’s work. In 2007, I was contacted by Red Deer Press with a contract offer to illustrate Free as the Wind: Saving the horses of Sable Island, written by Jamie Bastedo. Without even seeing the contract, or the manuscript I said yes, a choice which led me into a friendship with Zoe Lucas and the life-changing experience of my visit to Sable Island and subsequent refocusing of my creative work on wilderness and environmental issues.

In August of 2009, my partner artist Richard Rudnicki organized a week long visit to Sable Island with a group of 8 other artists of varied disciplines and skills.

Painting and hiking the island, immersed in the unique landscape, I wanted to capture not only the visual elements, but the feel of the breeze and the salt and sand in the air, the sounds of the ocean, seabirds, seals. My high realist style could not do this for me. Leaving this style behind was a progression —looking to infuse my work with the ‘soul’ of the land.

Now I am concentrating on groundscapes and developing an alphabet to describe life forms on and within the earth and the effects of the elements and time in the shaping earth’s surface. I am also working with field recordings as source material for abstracted soundscapes that further describe and illuminate the environment often badly in need of respect and protection. And never far from my mind are the sounds and images of Sable Island.

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