Lighthouse buffs far and wide are familiar with the inspiring story of Abbie Burgess, daughter of a light keeper at Maine’s remote Matinicus Rock. At the age of 16 in 1856, Abbie kept the island’s two lights burning through a ferocious storm while simultaneously caring for her invalid mother and younger siblings, during a period when her father was away. Abbie later married a keeper, Isaac Grant, and was appointed assistant keeper herself — first at Matinicus Rock and then Whitehead Island.
This past Thanksgiving weekend, the Farnsworth Museum of Rockland, Maine, introduced an art project honoring Abbie Burgess on its Main Street windows. The project takes the form of a 25-foot long moving panorama, or “crankie.”
What is a crankie? It’s an old-fashioned form of storytelling that utilizes a long, moving, illustrated scroll wound onto two spools. The 25-foot-long Abbie Burgess scroll is the work of artist Annie Bailey in collaboration with Andrew White. Bailey, daughter of a ship captain, is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work has been featured in National Geographic, the Society of Illustrators, and other galleries and museums. To see examples of her work, visit anniebaileyart.com.
“Abbie Burgess, Lighthouse Heroine” will be on view in the Farnsworth’s Main Street windows through Jan. 15, operating from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day.
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Candace was the US Lighthouse Society historian from 2016 until she passed away in August 2018. For 30 years, her work involved lighthouse history. She worked with the National Park Service and the Council of American Maritime Museums. She was a noted author and was considered the most knowledgable person on lighthouse information at the National Archives. Books by Candace Clifford include: Women who Kept the Lights: a History of Thirty-eight Female Lighthouse Keepers , Mind the Light Katie, and Maine Lighthouses, Documentation of their Past.