Sea & Sky & Solitude

Pucker Gallery
Aug 13, 2016 4:57PM

Centuries ago a rough, rocky outpost for early European fishing camps, the Isles of Shoals has had a rich history. Since the early 1600’s thousands have been drawn to its shores – explorers, fisher folk, pirates, artists, scientists, clergy, philosophers, politicians, and more – people from all walks of life and all ages.

As they are merely nine islands – none larger than a New England farmstead – being “on-island” feels like being in a separate world, with the “real” world laying six nautical miles away. For the last century, the not-for-profit Star Island Corporation has welcomed people to gather annually on Star Island, living and meeting in twenty-nine historic buildings. Surrounded by open ocean, teeming with wildlife, its landscape and seascapes unique and inspiring, Star Island exists to free all who come to renew their spirituality, explore matters of consequence, and gain knowledge about the world as it might ideally be. 

During the summer months, thousands of guests – individuals and families – form and re-form a community, strengthening their connection to one another and to something within themselves as they explore the arts, natural history, international affairs, religious education, yoga, contra dancing and more. 

And then they leave, bringing a part of the Shoals’ magic back to their off-island worlds. The islands are closed-up for winter. 

And this is when Alexandra de Steiguer arrives. Alex has been Star Island’s winter caretaker for over fifteen years, keeping vigilant watch over what many have come to call their “Spirit’s Home.” And she takes photographs.

Much about the Isles of Shoals is only fully in focus during the winter months, and I can feel how well Alex captures the essence of that. While she’s in residence, the only traces of people are fond memories and bright hopes, but those traces are somehow an evocative part of the island, even in the middle of winter. And just as the time of year has no dominion over that spirit, the Isles’ rugged winter beauty has a similar way of infusing the summer months with wonder. Chronology is obscured, and Alex’s works capture this sense of timelessness in telling ways. 

Winter at the Shoals is a magical time, alternately tempestuous or thick with the quiet peace of solitude. In a sense, Alex carries Star’s century-old tradition of summer-time philosophical and spiritual inquiry into the amazing and unique world of Star’s winter – in her solitude keeping alive a flame of thought which will be rekindled into a roaring blaze by the larger community with every coming summer. Her photographs are pure expression of Star Island’s spirit and its timeless mystery.

Joe Watts

Chief Executive Officer

Star Island Corporation 

Pucker Gallery