Sal Taylor Kydd – Landfall

Review by Douglas Stockdale

“Landfall” is a term to describe an approach to or a sighting of land that signals an arrival at one’s destination at the end of a journey across the sea. Landfall is a physical event, or in Sal Taylor Kydd’s recently released artist book, Landfall, it is both a physical as well as a metaphorical occurrence.

Kydd’s narrative is focused on a few of the many small island communities off the shore of the Maine coast that requires being transported over the sea by public ferry, boat or mail plane. Her poems and photographs take us on the journey, as mirrored in the book sections that follow, titled crossing, landfallpresencebenevolencekin and onward. In her foreword, Kat Kiernan recounts the names of the small places out at sea: Monhegan, Vinal Haven, Deer, Matinicus, Eagle and North Haven. Those who live on these islands full time are dwindling in numbers, and it is much of their past spirit, their presence, that Kydd appears to be connecting the reader with.

Her artwork has a very lyrical, if not pictorial, quality. The narrow depth of field and slight movement and blurring in the edges of the frame imply transitory moments. The sea wind is almost tangible. Kydd’s photographic images avoid the cliché of the Maine island and costal landscape, and are imbued more with a sense mystery and a dose of surrealism. 

Her poems are printed on reverse of a French-fold semi-translucent vellum pages, so reading the poetry is like experiencing words that are lost in a gentle fog. This hazy and indistinct fog is also common to the Maine coastline and adjacent islands in the off-season. Pages of her beautiful poetry are layered over equally lyrical black and white photographs that appear to be ghostly images situated in the distance behind her text. This is a brilliant metaphoric book design feature that creates multiple layers about the potential readings of her thoughtful narrative.

My only concern with the book design is the use of the tight perfect binding that causes some of the content of a double-page spread to be lost within the gutter. I wish the binding enabled me to lay open the book to allow the images and words time to seep into my soul.

I sense that her narrative is a journey that opens doors of imagination and provides connections to memories of one’s past.

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Landfall, Sal Taylor Kydd

Photographer: Sal Taylor Kydd, born in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, U.K. and now residing in Rockport, Maine

Publisher: Datz Press, Gwangin-gu, Seoul, South Korea, copyright 2020

Foreword: Kat Kiernan

Text: English

Hardcover, linen with foil stamp, perfect bound, with slipcase, vellum French-fold pages, list of plates, 7 x 9.5″, 84 pages, Limed Edition 100 book + print (4 x 5″ archival pigment). Printed in South Korea, ISBN 978-89-97605-49-1

Photobook Designer: Younghea Kim

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Articles and photographs published on PhotoBook Journal may not be reproduced without the permission of the PhotoBook Journal staff and the photographer(s).

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