The Hole explores the destruction and abuse we place on our land for our own personal need and gain, represented visually by disused quarries. In time these forgotten locations, that are sparsely dotted around the country, slowly return to what they once were by virtue of man’s absence. Humans use and deprive the land at their convenience. When it comes at a disadvantage it’s forgotten about and the land is left to deal with the consequences. When the environment finally retakes what is there, it returns in different ways to what was once before. It’s a never-ending cycle of nature versus the human race — with, unfortunately, the latter coming out on top, indefinitely.
— Ben Davies, Manchester, England
I have been working in UK forests for the past four years, making a number of bodies of work which explore the complex interrelationship between the landscape and the individual. Our understanding of landscape can be seen as a construction in which layers of meaning that reflect our own cultural preoccupations and anxieties obscure the reality of the land, veiling it, and transforming the natural world into an idealization.
UK forests have been shaped by human processes over thousands of years and include ancient woodlands and timber plantations. As such, the forest represents the confluence of nature and culture, of natural landscape and human activity. Forests are potent symbols in folklore, fairy tale and myth, places of enchantment and magic as well as of danger and mystery. In recent cultural history they have come to be associated with psychological states relating to the unconscious.
Against this cultural backdrop my work explores the fabricated nature of landscape by making a variety of temporary and non-invasive interventions in the forest, which place the viewer in the gap between reality and fantasy. Creating this space encourages the viewer to re-evaluate the way in which their relationship with the landscape is formed, and the extent to which it is a product of cultural heritage or personal experience.
The forest becomes a studio, forming a backdrop to contextualize the work, so that each piece draws on its location, a golden tree introduced into a thicket shimmers in the darkness, painted paths snake through the undergrowth, and strands of wool are woven between trees mirroring colours and formal elements within the space.
These altered landscapes operate on a number of levels. They are a reflection of my personal relationship with the forest, a meditation on universal themes relating to the psyche, and call into question the concept of landscape as a social and cultural construct.
— Ellie Davies, London, United Kingdom
A feeling of frustration led me to take the photos that form Olympic City. Firstly, after having lived in London for over a decade I quickly became irritated at the way in which the city was being portrayed by the Olympic organisers and in the adverts of its sponsors in the build up to the 2012 Olympic Games. Any aspect of the reality of life in London had been completely ignored and instead I felt we were being subjected to a Disneyesque version of London. Alongside this the needs and the daily lives of the people of London seem to be wilfully ignored by those organising the Olympics, from the £9 billion of public money being used to build the Games’ venues to the priority traffic lanes for athletes and media that even ambulances won’t be allowed to use. The frustration of seeing so much get done for the sole benefit of people that will be watching on TV while the people of the city bears the financial and logistical brunt of the Games angered me. The final inspiration for Olympic City was the quote from Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, that I use as an introduction to the series. He seems to wish that fairy-tale vision of London to become a reality, but only for the benefit of tourists and people watching London from millions of miles away. Having lived in the city for as long as I have I could think of so many areas that opposed his fantasy view of London as an Olympic utopia. The main aim with these photographs is to show a small dose of the reality of London in 2012.
— James Davies, London, United Kingdom