Ellie Davies Network
The Dwellings, 2012
The Dwellings series explores the artist’s changing relationship to built structures within the forest landscape, developing on previous work to examine the notion that we use landscape to find a sense of our own identity. Landscape can be seen as a cultural construct, obscured by layers of meaning that reflect our own cultural preoccupations and anxieties. Can we learn about ourselves by considering how we have come to see and make landscapes, as a result of our material needs, and the way this has shaped our relationships with the land?
The woodland Dwellings are made using a variety of traditional and improvised building techniques and created from materials gathered from the forest floor. Once completed, the structures function as signifiers of a creative process in which the artist inscribes and places herself temporarily and non-invasively within the forest landscape. These nest-like structures, reminiscent of the fairytale hovel, are a form of mark-making and explore the process of building in order to provide shelter, sanctuary, seclusion, and play.
The creation of each Dwelling illicits a childhood pleasure in building and making. The process ties the artist to the structure with a familiarity derived from being its creator, and brings with it a sense of ownership and territory; but this relationship is short-lived.
After a period of time each structure is revisited and photographed. The Dwellings take on their own personal identity, presence and potential, becoming inexplicably transformed into something independent from the creator, perhaps lonely, sometimes melancholy, and alien to the maker. Each has existed in the woods over a prolonged period of time, evading destruction, remaining in wait, possibly used by others. While some still seem newly made, others have begun to disintegrate and loose their form and function, the delineation between the structure and the woodland beginning to blur.
Any sense of ownership ceases to exist when construction of the Dwelling is completed; it then becomes part of the forest, and an entity in its own right. During the period of absence it is transformed into a shrine or totem of a past activity, and in doing so takes on a subtly threatening otherness in its vacancy; a persona that is both disturbing and intriguing to its creator.