Researching the current project and looking for inspiration along the lines of forest photography I came across the beautiful work of British Photographer Ellie Davies.
She has created an amazing body of work within her portfolio – all within her “outdoor studio” as she calls it… the British woodlands. The work has been orchestrated over a period of 7 years – she works alone using a Nikon D3 and various wide angle lenses and a tripod.
Her website: http://elliedavies.co.uk
“Ellie Davies is a young British fine art photographer who gained an MA in Photography from the London College of Communication in 2008. Much of her work is made in the forests of Southern England, and Davies uses the landscape as a studio space into which she introduces ‘made’ forms and interventions which explore our understanding of landscape as a construct that reflects our cultural preoccupations and anxieties. The work is also a personal exploration of the artist’s own experience of the landscape, the woodland and forest where she grew up.
Davies new body of work, Stars, continues many of these themes and tries to address our ever-increasing distancing and separation from the landscape – how our geographical alienation from the natural world in turn creates landscape as an object – one we are distanced from and no longer feel a part of – something beyond reach.
Stars addresses this by drawing the viewer right into the heart of the forest which still holds mystery and the potential for discovery and exploration. Ancient forest landscapes are interposed with images of the Milky Way, Omega Centauri and other embroyonic stars to create a forest landscape at once part of and fundamentally other with the intangible and unknown universe.” (info from http://www.cranekalmanbrighton.com/2014/12/ellie-davies-stars-2014/).
She has enjoyed great success professionally, with exhibitions of her work worldwide.
Selection of images from ‘Stars’ series, which I love. For this series her images are combined with images taken from the Hubble telescope.
In her series ‘The Dwellings 2012′ Davies either creates or finds (generally the former) woodland dens and then photographs them.
When I shot the dens the other week in Richmond Park I actually had no previous knowledge of Davies’ work, so I was really pleased when I started to research woodland / forest dens imagery and found her. I was not that enamoured with the subject as fodder for the Dreams and Reality project but Davies’ images are beautiful and I realise, on reflection, that it is relevant to the project subject matter after all.
I have attached the artists statement on her series ‘The Dwellings’ below for reference:
“The Dwellings series explores the artist’s changing relationship to built structures within the forest landscape, developing on previous work to examine the notion that we use landscape to find a sense of our own identity. Landscape can be seen as a cultural construct, obscured by layers of meaning that reflect our own cultural preoccupations and anxieties. Can we learn about ourselves by considering how we have come to see and make landscapes, as a result of our material needs, and the way this has shaped our relationships with the land?
The woodland Dwellings are made using a variety of traditional and improvised building techniques and created from materials gathered from the forest floor. Once completed, the structures function as signifiers of a creative process in which the artist inscribes and places herself temporarily and non-invasively within the forest landscape. These nest-like structures, reminiscent of the fairytale hovel, are a form of mark-making and explore the process of building in order to provide shelter, sanctuary, seclusion, and play.
The creation of each Dwelling illicits a childhood pleasure in building and making. The process ties the artist to the structure with a familiarity derived from being its creator, and brings with it a sense of ownership and territory; but this relationship is short-lived.
After a period of time each structure is revisited and photographed. The Dwellings take on their own personal identity, presence and potential, becoming inexplicably transformed into something independent from the creator, perhaps lonely, sometimes melancholy, and alien to the maker. Each has existed in the woods over a prolonged period of time, evading destruction, remaining in wait, possibly used by others. While some still seem newly made, others have begun to disintegrate and loose their form and function, the delineation between the structure and the woodland beginning to blur.
Any sense of ownership ceases to exist when construction of the Dwelling is completed; it then becomes part of the forest, and an entity in its own right. During the period of absence it is transformed into a shrine or totem of a past activity, and in doing so takes on a subtly threatening otherness in its vacancy; a persona that is both disturbing and intriguing to its creator.”
Other work that appealed to me:
Davies uses painted objects, collected items, textiles and smoke to create her images – everything is returned to its original state before she leaves, so there is no change to the environment in which she works.
I have been back to the woods to shoot more images – only to find that some of the best dens I shot previously have been dismantled… another reality!
I will reveal my efforts on the next post….
Criteria: 1.1; 1.2; 2.1