Drew’s photographs of the shipwrecked horses of Sable Island explore beauty and freedom. These wild horses live entirely free, knowing no predators other than their harsh environment.
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Sable Island, the narrow, crescent-shaped ribbon of sand and rock off the coast of Nova Scotia, is home to one of the last herds of completely-wild horses. Roaming freely over the land’s 26 rugged miles, these horses are symbols of independence and resiliency. As a near-anomaly of preservation in today’s world Sable Island’s shores are a continuous and fitting subject for Drew.
Each time Drew visits the island the horses are thriving, albeit fluctuating in numbers, but the landscape is different; its ever-changing, rolling, and shifting dunes molded by the wind. The only land mammals on Sable, the horses know no fear and have no predators so their unyielding attitude is only met with the island’s itself.
The island’s nickname is ‘the Graveyard of the Atlantic’ due to its history of shipwreck; 222 wrecks have been recorded, but an estimated 350 have occurred there. While Sable is inhospitable towards humans, the horses have maintained their existence there since the 18th century. Now Sable is protected by the government to sustain this microcosm of life – often the entire human population is just three people monitoring the weather.
The resulting body of work, both intimate and expansive, captures the form and movement of these animals, often using the island’s fog as a natural backdrop. As both a metaphor for freedom in literature – and for the island itself – this series highlights the horse’s unhindered relationship with the island and with one another. By selectively focusing on the horse’s signature features like windswept, salt-drenched manes as well as specific personalities of horses within the herd, Drew’s work in Sable explores the character of these fabled creatures through portraiture.
As one of the few artists granted extended overnight access to this island, Drew has been able to continuously shoot Sable through still photography and cinematography, giving the series perspective. The vantage point of time speaks on behalf of Sable’s wholly-undeveloped territory through the images of the horses both in motion and at rest.