Kangaroo Island by Alison Higgs ed.

cover image

Kangaroo Island lies off the mainland of South Australia, southwest of Adelaide. This coffee table sized, 90 page, book of colour photographs provides some beautiful and wide-ranging views of the island. Each image is unusual eg. the title page has tree branches covered with cockatoos, almost like cherry blossoms. The editor, Alison Higgs, states that the photographs in the book were taken between October 2018 and June 2019, capturing the unique beauty of the island before the devastating fires of December 2019 and January 2020 decimated large areas of the island.

The photographers are not identified by the editor. However, the views of the wildlife, coastal scenery and vegetation are really spectacular. Each photograph occupies the whole of a page with a white blank page between each shot. Written description is limited to a short title. A wide variety of marine, bird and mammal life of the island is represented.

Photographs vary in perspective from oblique aerial, overhead and extreme close-up. The opening pages show landscapes that are predominantly, yellow, red, green, blue and grey. Some photographs required close observation from the viewer in order to determine the natural features on view, others are very touching, such as the Koala affected by bushfire. Sheep are shown feeding in a large circle and another picture shows one white shorn sheep amongst the grey unshorn. There is a wonderful close up of a wedge-tail eagle in flight and a magnified view of a pink and white pygmy sundew. The patterns, lines and colours in the landscape are very striking.

Many of the images show an island looking sombre with the sky full of dark threatening clouds. These images are contrasted with others that are bright, warm and inviting. There are few images of early human heritage but quite a lot of attractive scenes such as the ocean swimming pool, boys playing with a dog in the shallows and massive waves on the south coast.

A map with place names is included at the end along with a facing note: "Each person who looks at these images will see something different . . .  Curating this work has slowed down my life and opened my eyes. Opened my eyes to the spirit of places I'd seen many times before, but never seen at all." I think the reader will want to visit Kangaroo Island after viewing this book.

Themes: Kangaroo Island, Photography.

Paul Pledger