Sable Island is a small treeless spit of sand and rock that measures 13 square miles. A national park, it is located nearly 200 miles off the Canadian coast, east of Nova Scotia. Commonly referred to as “The Graveyard of The Atlantic”, Sable Island’s difficult-to-navigate coastline and abundant fog has been the catalyst for over 350 shipwrecks, some of which can still be seen, weather permitting. Due to the difficult weather conditions, it may take days or weeks to get onto the island and to leave, and a weather station houses a handful of researchers and members of the Canadian Coast Guard. The number of visitors allowed on the island is limited to only 50 each year.
The 550 horses that live on Sable Island are descendants of horses abandoned there more than 300 years ago. Not resembling domesticated horses, this breed has long, bushy manes, tails and forelocks that resemble dreadlocks. They are completely wild and natural and have had no human intervention. The horses survive on the island’s natural grasses and fresh water reached by digging into the sand.
Doggett traveled to Sable Island by plane, landing on the beach, as there is no runway. He spent 70 days in total on the island over the course of nine years photographing the horses. Doggett worked directly with Parks Canada on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to survey the island via drone, resulting in the first-of-its-kind aerial footage. As a result, Doggett has created one of the most comprehensive collections of imagery and film footage of the island and the horses that live there.
The photographs featured in this large format coffee-table sized book are part of Doggett’s hallmark print series, Discovering the Horses of Sable Island and Spirit of Sable, which were captured between 2012 and 2019. His short film about the island, titled “Stronghold of Resistance” was chosen for the Big Sur International Film Festival and the PBS Online Film Festival. Doggett’s photographic work is highly prized and can be found in such institutions as the Smithsonian African Art Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Mariners’ Museum in Virginia.
It was an honor and privilege to be able to spend time on Sable Island, says Doggett. “I have always been fascinated by horses as symbols of fortitude and strength,” he explains. “They have become a muse of mine in a way. And so as I was researching wild horse populations, the horses of Sable Island came to my attention and I knew I had to go and spend a lot of time there.”
Windblown, featured on the cover, is Doggett’s favorite photograph in the book. It is a close-up profile of a Sable Island horse’s head with its thick, long mane and forelock covering the majority of its face. “It is one of my favorites because to me, it is extremely symbolic of Sable Island and the arduous life that they live there,” he says. “It shows the elegance and the difficult realities of life in one photograph. For me, this photograph is iconic Sable Island.”
Meticulously designed in-house and printed in the United States, the book contains a foreword written by English primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, the well-known global community conservation organization.
“(The book’s) magnificent photographs illustrate the remarkable and unlikely story of the endurance and survival of a group of extraordinary animals,” writes Goodall in the foreward. “With its relentless winds, Sable Island is a remarkable place and one of the last remaining wildlife expanses in our lifetime. As I turned the pages, one after the other, it was as though Drew was walking me around this wild place and introducing me to the horses, so that I too became captivated by their vitality and their beauty.”
“This book forms a lasting testimonial to a group of very special horses that have learned to live as truly wild beings…and it is this indomitable spirit that is immortalized in these photographs,” writes Goodall. The book is a triumph of art, tenacity, and a passionate vision of the love of the wild, she adds.
“Wild” retails for $95.00 and can be purchased on Amazon and at www.drewdoggett.com. A Limited Edition of the book is also available for purchase for $375 and includes an accompanying 8” x 12” archival pigment print. Doggett’s prints are also available for purchase at www.drewdoggett.com. Artwork is priced from $1,250 to $7,000 unframed, and between $2,060 to $15,370 framed.
To see the entirety of Doggett’s fine art print series, including his additional equestrian work, and to watch the accompanying short films, visit www.drewdoggett.com.