During the cold months of winter when lush summer foliage has fallen away, the Isles of Shoals have a stark, windswept appearance that gives emphasis to the rocky ledges and old buildings as they weather each storm. This place has a haunting quality; surrounded by the eternal sea, it wraps itself in time equally vast.
Absent the summer residents, the islands in winter are a cleaner canvas on which are cast the shadows of many generations come and gone. The stones tell of ancient mountains worn away over millennia, but even the wind-worn buildings have a history that has outlasted their occupants. With quiet stoicism, they’ve witnessed time on a scale that can never be known to us.
As I walk through the buildings in the present, history steps out from every room; a man in a work-worn coat, the blur of a woman in white. Is it merely a faded photograph or a painting on the wall that makes me imagine the hallways echoing with faint laughter, and fainter sobbing? I become haunted by how briefly we flash through this place, yet I sense how eternal the story.
It’s here that lives have been lived, dramas played out, and the same emotions felt – over and over again. Though they may take place generations apart, the stories are essentially the same. As long as the buildings stand, there will always be somebody at a window looking out into another century, somebody wandering the rocks, somebody sailing away. Somebody returning.
(No images on this site were made digitally; they represent real moments in time - nothing has been added or taken away).
Alex is the winter caretaker on Star Island, and has spent over two decades of winters on the rock. From November to April the nine islands that make up the “Isles of Shoals” are deserted except for their wild occupants, and the caretaker. During this time Alex considers the other wild residents her “community” and often wishes it could be so the rest of the year too.
All of her images have been personally hand printed in her darkroom, and because of the traditional methods used, each image has its own unique qualities. They are printed to archival standards on gelatin silver paper, and have been signed, dated and numbered.