Ellie Davies Network
Throughout the history of landscape painting the natural world has been invested with complex themes and metaphors that obscure and overlay the landscape with additional meaning, directly reflecting the preoccupations and anxieties of the culture they were produced in. The notion of landscape can be viewed as a cultural fiction that emerges as a product of a wider cultural imaginary. This is exemplified by the way America has ‘projected its ideological preoccupations onto the American landscape, and then used that landscape to construct a sense of identity’.
One of the many fictions built around landscape is the dichotomy of beauty and danger; the fabrication of landscape as safe and beautiful masking the ‘reality’ of the natural world as dangerous and threatening, in an attempt to control and harness it.
Reminiscent of Victorian miniatures these forest landscapes are cloaked in darkness; framing and encircling the otherworldly spaces, the deep shadow references a cultural perception of the natural world embedded in memory, history, storytelling and folk law, in which the forest has long symbolized the dark, hidden world of the unconscious. The constructed Island scenes, like microcosms of the natural world, explore the fabricated nature of landscape.
In occupying this narrow gap between reality and the cultural imaginary they encourage the viewer to impose their own narratives on these ficticious spaces. By responding to something that is unreal the viewer may reclaim the personal in their experience of the landscape.