Growing up in England, fine art photographer Ellie Davies spent afternoons frolicking in the forest with her twin sister, Rebecca — they played hide-and-seek, got blissfully lost in the dimness, cycled and foraged for wild mushrooms and exotic plants.
That magical landscape is now both Davies’ artistic inspiration and practical studio space — a place where she still gets lost, but now in her artwork. Using handmade sculptural elements, she superimposes dramatic narratives onto the natural landscape, resulting in deceptively simplistic yet mystical and fairy-tale-like images. Her 2012 series, “Dwellings,” depicted dense, cave-like huts made of sticks and leaves nestled into the trees; “Come With Me,” in 2011, featured elegant pathways of painted leaves and paper, snaking through the dirt.
For her most recent work, “Stars,” Davies shot woodlands in the south of England — mostly in her childhood home, the New Forest — and then digitally layered the photographs with high-resolution starscapes taken with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The works, which appear in her recently self-published book, “Into the Woods,” are shot through with dichotomies: the tangible forest juxtaposed against the vast unknowns of space, dark shadows studded with glittery starlight, elements of urban life versus wildlife.
Davies, whose work is exhibited in galleries in Paris, London and the Netherlands as well as at art fairs around the world, welcomes those contradictions.
“Some people find the work beautiful and evocative and others find it dark and disturbing,” she says. “It’s good for me that they find that variety. The forest is laden with meaning and there’s a certain purposeful ambiguity in the images — so that people can draw their own narratives.”