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Into the Woods: Ellie Davies on her Otherworldly and Philosophical Forest Scenes

Posted by on March 23, 2018 | Photographer Interviews

When fine-art photographer Ellie Davies was a child, she and her twin sister would walk through the woods with their mother, a painter who helped them enjoy sights and sounds discovered through silence and awareness.

Years later, while pursuing a master’s in photography from London College of Communication, the Dorset-based artist realized how much she missed the ancient woodland of Southern England and wanted to re-engage with it. She did so for her final thesis in 2008 that explores what she describes as “the fine line between reality and a constructed visual fantasy.”

Davies, not ready to leave her arboreal studio after graduation, has spent the years since expressing the relationship humans have with the woods. She uses the tools of a keen eye and, at times, pools of light or materials that alter the terrain like smoke, paint and wool. For her 2014-2015 series, “Stars,” for example, she interposed forest landscapes with images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. And for her 2016 “Half Light” work, she divided the frame between the woodland landscapes in the background and the river in the foreground, accentuating the gap between the two elements. 

Davies used imagery captured by the Hubble Space Telescope to add a dose of wonder to her “Stars” series. Photo © Ellie Davies

“For me they’re landscape photographs that I’ve made some sort of intervention in, and the idea is that [viewers] impose their own narrative,” Davies says. “People have very different reactions to my work. Some find it quite uplifting and joyful and other people find it sinister and dark and unnerving, and I love that variety of responses.” 

—Mindy Charski 

This is an excerpt from the full article, “Into the Woods” (PDNedu, Spring 2018). Learn more about the evolution of Davies’s work in the digital edition, which you can read online for free

Another image from Davies’s “Star” series. Photo © Ellie Davies

A photograph from Davies’s 2016 “Half Light” series, which divides the frame between the woodland landscape in the background and the river in the foreground. Photo © Ellie Davies.