Lidgard, Damian. 2011. Sable Island. Nimbus Publishing Limited, Halifax. 102 pages.
Review: "Sable Island" by Damian Lidgard is a photographic survey that features one of Canada's most mysterious places. The book is artistic and appeals to the senses. At first glance there is a certain "wow " factor about the pictures. It is a book that would appeal to both the photographer and Sable Island enthusiast.
In the preface, Lidgard explains how his philosophy and photographic technique has impacted his appreciation for Sable Island's "richness and beauty". His hope for the book is that the images he presents will help the reader "to appreciate Sable Island in the same way" he does. To his credit, he does have an impressive collection of pictures. In adherence to his philosophy of maintaining a "direct mental connection with the image", the photographs are named but there is minimal background information provided.
He does attempt to present some general text about Sable Island in the introduction and at the beginning of each section. For the most part, it is a standard Sable Island briefing. Nevertheless, I do question the accuracy of one statement in which he wrote that "During the 1960's, when shipwrecks became infrequent, the life-saving stations were closed,...". The Humane Establishment (assuming that this was the life saving activity to which he was referring) was actually closed in 1958 after a period of more than ten years with no recorded wrecks.
Considering the quality of the photography, had Lidgard placed more emphasis on the text, he may have presented a more comprehensive view of the subject. However, this book was meant to be appreciated from a visual and esthetic perspective, minus the "judgements, labels, associations and memories that change the initial perception". It is a book that will ultimately leave the reader wanting to know more about the many untold stories behind those poignant photographs.
Lidgard's approach to documenting Sable Island is different. The deliberate lack of text may catch an unsuspecting reader by surprise. Yet, the images are intriguing and for that reason, this picture book has found its place on my coffee table.
Landscape format, 23 cm x 28 cm. Hardcover $27.95 Canada.
Prepared for the Sable Island Green Horse Society
by Cindy Clancey, Dartmouth NS, November 2011 ©