Crystal clear chalk streams, akin to gin water, intertwine and meander through the counties of Dorset and Hampshire, in southern England, very close to where acclaimed British photographer Ellie Davies resides.
Davies began the “Chalk Streams” series in 2020, tracking these rivers from small tributaries and streams to the wide and rapid rivers of Frome, Piddle, Itchen, and Test.
Famous naturalist David Attenborough recently described chalk streams as “one of the rarest habitats on Earth.” There are just over 200 chalk streams globally, and 85% of them are found in the UK. These types of currents are characterized by their width and shallow depth, as well as having fresh and stable waters that flow over flinty gravel beds. They are unique ecosystems that harbor high biodiversity and have been likened to rainforests and coral reefs for their ecological importance.
In her series, Davies overlays the light from the sea surface onto these rivers, representing the invasion of these critical ecosystems by the destructive human impacts of climate change, sea level rise, pollution, water abstraction, farm runoff, among others. The enchanting sparkles hint at the insidious nature of these pressures, the relentless altering and damaging of wild places, and the need to protect them.
Ellie Davies (born 1976) graduated from the MA in Photography at the London College of Communication in 2008 and has won numerous awards for her work, including the recent shortlist at the Earth Photo Awards 2023.
Her new exhibition, “Into the Woods,” will be held at the Crane Kalman Gallery in London from July 28 to August 18, 2023. The exhibition will include works from her new series “Chalk Streams,” along with prints from many of her previous bodies of work created over the past 10 years in the woods of the UK.
In addition to the London exhibition, 30 large-size prints from 5 bodies of work will be displayed in an outdoor meadow setting at the Zingst Horizonte Environmental Photo Festival until June 2024. Likewise, the “Chalk Streams” series will be taken to China for the Lishui International Photography Festival in December 2023.
Davies’ work, whose art is owned by private collectors worldwide, reflects her constant effort to connect with nature and the urgency of its protection. Her work is a call for change, and although it reflects a deep concern about the urgency of the climate crisis, it also maintains a strong and enduring hope for the future. [Official Website]