In many of the childhood fairy tales, the forest plays an important role in the setting: Snow White wanders in the forest with her 7 dwarfs; Little Red Riding Hood has to go through the forest to Grandmother’s House; Goldilocks stumbles upon the home of three bears while wandering in the forest. The forest has always been a surrounded with a shroud of mystery and enchantment, where sprites and trolls and otherworldly creatures dwell.
Our relationship with the forest and its landscape is the focus of photographer and artist, Ellie Davies’ work. For the last 7 years, Ellie has explored the culturally placed enchantment with the forest. Using the forest as a lush canvas for her artistic manipulations, Ellie “explores the ways in which identity is formed by the landscapes we live and grow up in.” She incorporates various materials – smoke, yarn, light, etc – to encourage the viewer to think about the line between reality and fantasy and how their “own relationship with the landscape is formed, the extent to which it is a product of cultural heritage or personal experience, and how this has been instrumental in their own identity.”
In her most recent series, Stars 2014, Ellie combines images of the forest with images from the Hubble telescope of the Milky Way, Omega Centauri, the Norma Galaxy and Embryonic stars in the Nebula NGC 346.
Stars, 2014 explores my desire to find some balance between a relationship with the wild places of my youth, and a pervasive sense of disconnectedness with the natural world.
Each image in the series, which looks like clusters of fireflies swarming through the woods on a warm summer night, has a magical appeal to them. One can almost see figures materialize from the clusters of light – a fairy or perhaps a pixie.
Another one of Ellie’s series, Between the Trees, explores the space between the trees; the space made more prominent by the smoke or clouds in and around them.The ghostly clouds that linger in the trees and the eerie silence and stillness of the images takes you to another world, a calm, mysterious place devoid of the modern distractions of life.
Each of Ellie’s series’ hopes to inspire the viewer about how their identity is shaped by the landscapes around us. It is in Ellie’s own exploration and interpretations of how the forests have shaped and inspired her that brought these works to life, which are just two in her extensive collection. See all of her images and read her thought processes in her artist’s statements on her website here.