What is a forest? Is it the trees or the space that exists between them?

“A forest is what exists between its trees, between its dense undergrowth and its clearings, between all its life cycles and their different time-scales…A forest is a meeting place between those who enter it and something unnameable and attendant…Something intangible and within touching distance. Neither silent nor audible.”

—John Berger, Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance

These images explore the nature and meaning of the word “forest” by considering the physical experience of standing alone inside 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.

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 cognizance of the forest, the muffled and flattened sound, the prickling sense of heightened awareness. The mist fills the gaps to show the spaces between, as if we can slip through and escape time itself.

—Ellie Davies