London-based photographer Ellie Davies has created surreal portraits of forests that glow with mystical fairy lights and ominous waves of mist in her Between The Trees and Stars series. With the UK’s woods as her canvas, fireflies illuminate desolate clearings, and cascading flurries of glitter dust dramatically lit patches of trees.

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Davies’ work explores the ways in which identity is formed by the landscapes we live and grow up in. She does this by positioning out-of-place man-made elements — such as paint, glitter or smoke — within the context of wild landscapes.

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The Between The Trees images explore the nature and meaning of ‘Forest’ by considering the experience of standing alone in the woods; the eerie and captivating sensation that time has slowed down and that the forest and everything within it exists in a different state.  Somehow set apart from our usual perception of linear time the wind drops, the air cools, all is quiet and still and the forest draws in.  To enter this other place is to accept a slowing of time and a shift in perception.

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The swirling, hanging and drifting smoke allows us to observe time moving at an almost imperceptible pace, and to focus on the interior space that is very much part of the forest, guiding the eye away from the trees and allowing it to linger on this ‘betweenness’.  Suspended and still, the smoke fills the spaces between the trees reflecting this physical experience: the palpable and brooding cognisance of the forest, the muffled and flattened sound, the prickling sense of heightened awareness.  The mist fills the gaps to draw us into the spaces between.

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‘Stars’ explores Davies’ 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.

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Today, the majority of people live in urban or semi-urban environments, experiencing the landscape from a distanced position mediated through various media and technology.  From this viewpoint the notion of the landscape in all its sensuous materiality, our being within it rather than outside it, seems beyond reach.

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Stars addresses this distancing by drawing the viewer right into the heart of a forest which still holds mystery, and offers the potential for discovery and exploration.  The series considers the fragility of our relationship with the natural world, and the temporal and finite nature of landscape as a human construct.

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