Wild horses couldn’t drag her away

Artist shows the spirit of Sable Island horses

Coombs’ artist Joan Larson is having an art exhibition and sale featuring The Wild Horses of Sable Island at the Creekside Studio this  weekend.

Coombs’ artist Joan Larson is having an art exhibition and sale featuring The Wild Horses of Sable Island at the Creekside Studio this weekend.

After a profound visit two years ago to a secluded, East Coast Island, Coombs artist Joan Larson has finished her Wild Horses of Sable Island series, enabling residents to discover this hidden Canadian gem for themselves.

Larson had known about the ethereal sand bar island since she was a child; heard the romantic stories of the wild horses, the sandy plains and beaches and spectacular sunsets, but never thought it would be possible to visit herself.

Access to the island has to be granted by Canadian Coast Guard and visitors have to make their own transportation arrangements to and from the island, as well as bring all their own supplies.

Larson was invited by a childhood horse riding acquaintance, and was thrilled by the invitation.

“It was just like, ‘Oh my God are you kidding?’ when she asked if wanted to go,” Larson said. 

“To go and hang out with a bunch of wild horses?” she added.

So she headed off with two photographers and an Alberta professor and wild horse researcher. The island, located 300 kilometres southeast of mainland Nova Scotia, is the windiest place in Nova Scotia with the least sunshine and most fog. That’s why it wasn’t surprising to Larson when she and her group were grounded by offshore fog, delaying their week-long trip for five days. In the end the weather also delayed them getting back to the mainland, giving them four full days on the island.

Before the wheels even hit the landing strip (which was the beach) Larson saw wild horses coming out of the dunes. The population of horses on the island swelled to about 400 when she was visiting and she said it wasn’t hard to find them on the 42 km long island.

Only a handful of people reside on Sable Island, but the wildlife is a different story. Besides wild horses, the island is also home to the world’s largest population of grey seals, along with harbour seals and numerous birds.

One evening that remains ingrained in Larson’s memory was the first night she spent on the island, having hiked to a beach to watch an incredible sunset on a balmy summer’s day.

“I was sitting in the sand dunes and there’s horses behind me, there’s seals up and down the beach and I just had this profound sense like the universe came down and gave me great big hug,” she said.

Larson has created 20 original paintings based on her experiences on Sable Island, revealing captivating scenes of the island’s wild horses, sand dunes and sunsets, all in pastel. She said the Island was a magical place and she wanted to capture and express this in her work. 

“To me this is about sharing a little slice of Canada that hardly anyone will get to go visit in person,” she said.

The Wild Horses of Sable Island will be featured in an art exhibition and sale at the Creekside Studio, located at 1471 Winchester Rd. in Coombs this Saturday and Sunday, June 18 and 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For details about the artwork and show visit  www.joanlarson.com/sableisland.html or call 250-752-0395.

A “Name That Painting” contest is happening for one of the pieces, visit http://joanlarson.wordpress.com/contest/ for more information.

 

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