Inside this issue
Into The Woods
Exhibition by Ellie Davies
Ellie Davies (1976) was born in London and graduated from the MA Photographic Degree Course at the London College of Communication (2008).
‘Into The Woods’ in an exhibition of my photographic work at Crane Kalman Gallery in Knightsbridge, London. The show runs from 21 July to 20 August 2016, and it is my first solo show in London since 2012.
The exhibition brings together twenty-four images made in the woods and forests of Southern England over the last eight years. I will also be launching my newest series ‘Half Light (2016).
I have been working in UK forests since 2007, making work which explores the complex interrelationship between the landscape and the individual. Our understanding of landscape can be seen as a construction in which layers of meaning that reflect our own cultural preoccupations and anxieties obscure the reality of the land, veiling it, and transforming the natural world into an idealisation.
UK forests have been shaped by human processes over thousands of years and include ancient woodlands, timber forestry, wildlife reserves and protected Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. As such, the forest represents the confluence of nature and culture, of natural landscape and human activity. Forests are potent symbols in folklore, fairy tale and myth, places of enchantment and magic as well as of danger and mystery. In recent cultural history, they have come to be associated with psychological states relating to the unconscious.
Against this cultural backdrop, my work explores the fabricated nature of landscape by making a variety of temporary and non-invasive interventions in the forest, which place the viewer in the gap between reality and fantasy. Creating this space encourages the viewer to re-evaluate the way in which their relationship with the landscape is formed, and the extent to which it is a product of cultural heritage or personal experience.
Throughout my practice small acts of engagement respond to the landscape using a variety of strategies, such as making and building using found materials, creating pools of light on the forest floor, using craft materials, paint and wool and introducing stars-scapes taken by the Hubble Telescope. The forest becomes a studio, forming a backdrop to contextualise the work so that each piece draws on its location. My images are a reflection on my personal relationship with the forest, a meditation on universal themes relating to the psyche and they explore the concept of landscape as a social and cultural construct.
In my most recent series ‘Half Light (2016) I have added a new element – water. The dark, still rivers are bordered by colourful, textured riverbanks rich with vegetation. The murky waters dissect each image creating a false horizon, separating the viewer from the twilight forest beyond and allowing the land to be considered from a distance. Life in an increasingly urbanised Britain has alienated us from that which is natural, it has become harder to experience a truly immersive relationship with the landscape, we view it remotely; it has become an idealisation, constructed and distant.
Growing up in the New Forest in the south of England, I spent my childhood exploring and playing in the woods with my twin sister. In Half Light, I consider my relationship with those places, my on-going attempt to reconnect with the wilder landscapes of my youth and to discover if those remembered and imagined places can be found and captured again, or if, like my childhood, they too are out of reach.
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