The Isles of Shoals are just a few marks on a mariner’s chart. There is not much here, and what there is becomes smaller in the presence of the sea. The wind is the shaping force that leaves its trace upon the old buildings, twisted shrubs and long grasses standing bare against the sky.
I’ve spent nineteen long winters on the Isles of Shoals as caretaker, so naturally I’ve explored every part of the islands that I can get to. It’s here that I’ve witnessed the towering waves of the nor’easter, and the rare calm sea stretching silver and endless into the distance.
Sometimes I’m asked - “don’t you get bored?” or “haven’t you seen everything by now?” Strangely, the answer is no.
Wandering through the shifting light that paints the features of this place, I see that each new moment presents its subtle differences, and I have come to realize that the sights never truly end, that being open to what is really here always reveals more than the expected. These nine small islands offer a valuable lesson; that the ability to see and to experience is limited only by what I think I know of a place – by my expectations.
I live among the islands with one other person, but most of the time I am the only one here. Often I climb the high rocky bluffs to stand gazing at the horizon. Even within the great space and silence the wind seems to echo, and I can feel the isolation of this place.
Most of us aren’t often by ourselves for long periods with only the wild elements for company. In a way, solitude is like being restricted to one small island – yourself. You’ve walked that personal island all your life; you take it for granted that you know every part of it. But solitude forces you to stay there, to walk it again with new eyes… to come to the very edge and gaze into the unknown.
I’ve learned that islands - whether bounded by oceans or by my own self-perceptions - are only as limited as I believe them to be. And so I will explore these islands again… and hopefully, I will continue to see.
All of Alex’s images have been personally hand developed and printed in her darkroom. Because of the traditional methods used, each image has its own unique qualities. They are printed to archival standards on double weight, fiber-base paper, and have been mounted and matted on acid-free museum board. Each image has been signed, dated and numbered on the back..