Inside this issue
Ellen Borggreve is a Dutch landscape photographer and author with a special affection for experiencing fleeting moments of magic amongst the old trees she regards as lifelong friends as well as the forever changing timelessness of sea, sand and sky.
In 2012 I paused by my local river and everything changed. I’ve moved away from what many expect photographs to be: my images deconstruct the literal and reimagine the subjective, reflecting the curiosity that water has inspired in my practice. Water has been my conduit: it has sharpened my vision, given me permission to experiment and continues to introduce me to new ways of seeing.
We sometimes use the word awesome to describe landscapes – views – but seldom apply it to woodland. Yet these too are places of awe in all senses – terror or dread, reverence, and wonder too. How we feel about them depends not just on the place, or the prevailing weather conditions which may amplify atmosphere, but on what we bring along in our cultural and personal make-up, and the point in our lives at which we encounter them - looking at Ellen’s images, the love that she has for woodland is clear, yet she hasn’t always felt comfortable in and around them. There is a universal appeal to her work that transcends boundaries, though it provides a wonderful insight into some of the woods and forests of The Netherlands.
Would you like to start by telling readers a little about yourself – where you grew up, your early interests and education, and what path that led you along?
I grew up in the midst of the forests of the Veluwe, in the east of The Netherlands, very close to the National Park De Hoge Veluwe. I was an introverted and shy girl, who liked nothing more than to read everything that I could get my hands on. I always wanted to know everything and loved writing and photography from as early as I can remember. My dad was an avid amateur photographer with his own darkroom. When he would take pictures I would look closely at what he was aiming the camera at and would try to make an image equally skillfully. My horizons were crooked and I specialised in space cows for the first year or so, because I made a habit of photographing cows and over-exposing them. My mum was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when I was still in pre-school and so life was worrisome; having a grandmother who made me see the extraordinary in the ordinary offered me an entrance to a more magical side of reality, which is what still drives my work to this day. Even though I was always drawing up some design and always wanted to become a designer or photographer, I did the responsible thing and I went to university in 1990 with the idea of becoming a lawyer. It turned out I did not like Law at all though. In 1997 I found my way into designing very detailed and realistic soft sculpture animals that I made for collectors and museums. After 21 years, amongst which were many unhappy ones, I stopped making my animals. At that time I had been photographing for about 40 years and had spent 25 years learning all about it. This is when I finally decided to go after my dream and become a photographer.