Into the Woods, a new exhibition by young British photographer Ellie Davies will showcase her new work from the series Half Light, alongside her earlier bodies of work. The 22 works in the exhibition have been created by Davies over the past seven years in the forests of the UK, and explore the complex interrelationships between the landscape and the individual.
The forest is Davies’s studio. Working alone she responds to, and alters, the landscape with a series of temporary interventions, such as making and building, creating pools of light on the forest floor, or using craft materials such as paint and wool. A golden tree is introduced into a thicket to shimmer in the darkness, painted paths snake through the undergrowth, and strands of wool are woven between trees. The final images are a culmination of these elements and each piece draws on its specific location. Using handmade sculptural elements, she superimposes her personal narratives on the landscape.
In her latest series of work Half Life (2015), Davies adds a new element – water – a dark, still river, bordered by colourful, textured riverbanks rich with vegetation. The murky water dissects each image creating a false horizon, separating the viewer from the twilight forest beyond and allowing the land to be considered from a distance.
‘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 these places, my ongoing 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.’- Ellie Davies, 2016
In addition to Half Light, Into The Woods will include previous bodies of work in Davies’s woodland series’ including Stars, Between The Trees, Islands, Come With Me and The Gloaming.
Over thousands of years, UK forests have been shaped by human processes and represent 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 Davies’s ongoing work explores the fabricated nature of the landscape to create a hinterland between reality and fantasy. She encourages the viewer to re-evaluate the ways in which their relationship with the landscape is formed, and to what extent this is a product of cultural heritage or personal experience.