Books & Essays
Ossabaw: Evocations of an Island
University of Georgia Press 2004
A wild paradise of woodlands, beaches, and tidal marshes off the Georgia coast, Ossabaw Island is a heritage preserve that will forever remain undeveloped. Visitors rarely leave untouched by its tranquillity and mystery. Many are struck by the sense of solitude it imparts?even though Ossabaw lies just twenty miles south of Savannah.
The book?s three creators have powerful connections to Ossabaw: Jack Leigh?s photography and James Kilgo?s nature writing have led them there, while Alan Campbell has taken part in the artists? retreat known as the Ossabaw Island Project. This retreat has been a source of inspiration and rejuvenation for such attendees as the writer Annie Dillard, architect Robert Venturi, composer Samuel Barber, and sculptor Ann Truitt. Leigh?s black-and-white photographs, Campbell?s watercolor and oil paintings, and Kilgo?s essay offer three highly individual interpretations of a similar experience?that of deep personal connection with Ossabaw?s timelessness and beauty.
In ?Place of the Black Drink Tree? Kilgo?s meditations on the yaupon holly tea used ritually by Ossabaw?s aboriginal inhabitants lead to other thoughts about the island?s natural and human history. Leigh and Campbell?s images depict scenes of the contemporary Ossabaw that evoke a landscape as it may have appeared to its Native American, and even its earliest European, inhabitants: deserted beaches strewn with massive pieces of driftwood, palm trees tilting toward the water?s edge, an alligator lounging on the bank of a sandy creek, a flock of seabirds winging across a marsh.
Book Review #1:
"Here, a triumvirate of artists catches the strange elegance of Ossabaw, one of Georgia's little-known barrier islands?its layers of history and grand wilds, its reckless stillness and stirring shadow, its mystery and manners. In a collaboration of ink, color, and film, these gifted artists show how a place can spark human genius. Think of this book as a shrine of imagination to Ossabaw. All and yet nothing is revealed. May Ossabaw ever remain so beautifully untouched."
?Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood and Wild Card Quilt
Book Review #2:
"This handsome book captures the magic of Ossabaw Island. Jack Leigh's startling photographs, the engaging paintings of Alan Campbell, and the spirited essay by James Kilgo bring to life the island's mysteries and untouched beauty."
?Donald Keyes, former curator of paintings at the Georgia Museum of Art