Uncertain States Exhibition Text

By Dave Than - 10th October

Dave Than Discusses his selection for Uncertain States 2014 Open.

Ellie Davies selected by Dave Than.

‘Each selector was asked to champion one artist. There was no discussion, no consensual compromises, just an individuals’ passion for each of the artists finally chosen. Without exception, the selectors have verbalised that they have been able to witness some very exciting projects from artists around the country.’  Uncertain States Press Release.

Exhibition Text by Dave Than.

Ellie Davies: Between the trees, No’ 11.

Nature’s place in contemporary culture is a complicated subject, as is our view of nature in art history from a post-environmentalist perspective. I’m no expert but as I view Ellie Davies image, the edge of the forest feels like a liminal place between my sense of civilisation and the unknown and untamed woodland world.

Ellie’s leafless tree has a stump covered with brilliant lime-green moss, it’s trunk and branches predominantly silvery white. The woodland colours suggest the time of year from a subtle English palette. But her temporary intervention alters this landscape and opens up a myriad of interpretations. The smoke she suspended reduces visability, like lifting mist, and adds to the mystical nature of the scene.

Romantic notions of the sublime that were associated with nature are changing due to Post-Modernist inventions and digital technology but forests remain potent symbols in folklore and folk tales portray the woods as magical, strange, sacred, scary and unknown, crossing cultural time. Therefore, Ellie’s temporary interventions might act as apparitions, which collude with folk symbolism within our English heritage.

Many of us are becoming both more aware and more protective of our woods. The government’s ugly proposal to sell off much of our remaining forest to commercial interests in 2011 aroused unusual passion. It wasn’t only our walks and weekends that were at stake, it was our imagination.

Psychologists call “liminal space” a place where boundaries dissolve a little and we stand there, on the threshold, getting ourselves ready to move across the limits of what we were into what we are to be. From my networked perspective, Ellie Davies image complicates my constructed urban identity and is more comfortably read as a metaphorical realm where ideas and concepts: artistic, political, cultural, social or otherwise, are in constant states of contestation and negotiation.


Uncertain States Open Call 2014.

Exhibition Dates: 10 October – 1 November 2014.
Private View: Thursday 9 October 2014 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Press View: Thursday 9 October 5:30 – 6:30 pm (RSVP to mary@uncertainstates.com)

The selected artists from the Uncertain States Open call 2014 are as follows:

Ellie Davies selected by Dave Than.

Ellen Nolan selected by Sean O’Hagan.

Georgia Metaxas selected by Richard Sawdon Smith.

Lydia Goldblatt  selected by Zelda Cheatle.

Freya Gabie selected by Julie Cockburn.

Andrei Nacu selected by Melanie Manchot.

Georgina McNamara selected by Mari Mahr.

Emilia Moisio selected by Pete James.

Dominic Hawgood selected by Ángel Luis González Fernández.


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