The Sable Effect

Wallace Lake Wallace Lake and the Sandy Plain in August
© Susan Tooke 2009

Going back several years… Peter Carver, editor at Red Deer Press, phoned to ask me to illustrate a story about saving the horses of Sable Island. Without any more information, I said yes. This led me on the path to meet and work with Zoe Lucas, one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. Since then, I have had the opportunity to get to know Zoe and to glimpse Sable Island through her eyes, just touching the surface of her years on the island, but feeling the wonder and beauty, the ‘specialness’ of that extraordinary place.

In August, Richard Rudnicki and I had the opportunity to take artists with us for an extended time on Sable. We went out each morning finding that singular view then sitting down for several hours absorbing the sounds, smells and colours while the outside world disappeared from conscious thought. Painting on Sable Island was intense and so different from the studio space back in Halifax where my work is cocooned, meticulously planned—I wanted to capture the fleeting light, the movement of the horses, the seals, the waving of the grasses and the shifting of shadows across the sand. I felt that I was seeing the very curvature of the earth from the high dunes, that the world was turning with Sable at its centre and I had been given the gift of a lifetime. Zoe calls this feeling the Sable Effect.

It is a lasting memory of time suspended, while surrounded by the cycle of life.

Susan Tooke, September 2009