Evocations of an Island

Photographs by Jack Leigh
Text by James Kilgo
Illustrations by Alan Campbell
Foreword by John Lane

A tribute in word and image to a Georgia sea island


"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

"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

"At first, it seems a stretch, using three mediums to put together a portrait of Ossasbaw Island. No one disputes the talents of Jack Leigh, Alan Campbell and the late James Kilgo. But do their disciplines—photography, painting and prose—meld in this instance? The reply is a resounding yes, and the result is a remarkable book."
Savannah Morning News

"Employs masters of the camera lens, written word, and painted canvas to offer testimony to the enduring natural beauty of Georgia's Ossabaw Island . . . Ossabaw: Evocations of an Island transcends the category of coffee-table book by providing thought-provoking depth and substance. Together, the devotions of these artists will help you see one of coastal Georgia's natural treasures in an entirely new way."
Panorama: The Magazine of the Georgia Conservancy

"If you're drawn to coastal wildernesses and/or extraordinarily well-produced books, Ossabaw: Evocations of an Island is a book for you. A collection of interpretations of the uppermost (near Savannah) but least fabled of Georgia's golden isles by photographer Jack Leigh, writer James Kilgo, and painter Alan Campbell, the enticement is a treat for both the mind and eye."
—Bob Summer, Publishers Weekly Southern Correspondent

"A compelling look at the first of Georgia's State Heritage Trust preserves."
Athens Magazine

"Ossabaw is an inspired effort by three devotees of this coastal heritage preserve."
Southern Living

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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.

Page count: 112 pp.
Trim size: 9 x 8

Read more about Ossabaw Island at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.


List price: $31.95

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Jack Leigh is the author of five highly acclaimed books of photography, including The Ogeechee (Georgia). Leigh lives in Savannah, Georgia. James Kilgo (1941–2002) wrote extensively about nature, the landscape, and our connections to them. Five of his books, including Colors of Africa, are available from the University of Georgia Press. Alan Campbell, who is based in Athens, Georgia, has served as a visiting artist on scientific expeditions with the National Science Foundation and the Organization for Tropical Studies. The authors' royalties from the sale of this book will go to the Ossabaw Island Foundation.