A Walking Medium

The Forest Diaries: 10 photographs

by Ellen Gould Ventura

Barcelona, Spain 2011 – ongoing

As my sight begins to diminish, the tools of my expression have expanded and helped me to see a new type of landscape.

The songs of my life as a singer over the course of almost half a century now have a second voice or a counter-point in their midst, allowing me to shift focus to that of a visual medium.

As the daughter of a prolific visual artist and partner to various photographers over the course of my life, this unavoidable apprenticeship has come full swing.

A literal explosion of imagery is the skeleton that can no longer be kept in the closet.

Without conscious effort, I am experiencing full-blown possession by another type muse with a new set of eyes, replete with a rhythm set by the sound of a digital shutter.

{Cactus Life 2}

This new silent medium is powerful to me as it literally leaves me speechless on a daily basis and yet still prone to internal musical improvisations by merely lifting a finger.

Very similar to what happened with the onslaught of the Polaroid camera in its day, the iPhone camera and its various applications have allowed me the most democratic of privileges in our current era.

{Cactus Life 5}

I feel compelled to pick up one of the most common and available axes to grind away at my own instant visual verse and ocular stanzas: a rich diversion from the right-brain world of the linear and on into the green valley of the forest.

{Cactus Life 7}

With a new set of rose-coloured glasses, I set out most early mornings into the hills high above the city of Barcelona and take full advantage of the light and shadow play, the dawn and its’ creatures in full techno-colour glory.

{Cactus Life Mask in Sepia}

It all began about eighteen months ago on the heels of the death of my father when I began to draw in tiny books, setting ink to paper, the subconscious telephone doodles of yester-year suddenly turned into cristaline representations, with everything from lotuses and lilies to spores and seeds of plants. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was also harbouring a right-sided ovarian cyst.

{Ground Frost Salvia}

The more I drew, the more I needed to walk into the forest.

The more I walked up there, the more beauty I witnessed and the better I felt.

The better I felt, the more I witnessed and the more I captured.

The more I captured, the more my unwanted visitor shrank away into the nether world.

This new rapture was the beginning of a type of liberation I was only ever voyeur to until just recently.

{Leaning Corcha}

Since my initiation with this camera, I have become an avid victim to its wiles. The majority being details or close-ups of trees, plant-life and occasional family members, the images are the ground-work for drawings, yet in the making, have all the earmarks of a fast and hot “quickie” in the woods: Instant photographic gratification.

{Mujer del bosque}

This “dues-ex-machina” has deepened my understanding of the Earth’s symbologies and my connection to it. Using a series of different lenses and coloured filters, the images created with it have become further justification for my use of plants and its derivatives as healers.

{Pino de las tinieblas}

Therefore, the life that appears before my eyes within the heart of nature’s own embellishment of her divinity, (either in human, plant or animal form) becomes immortalized with a new walking medium.

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Ellen Gould Ventura is the principal singer and director of Mashalá! the Barcelona based Sefardi Mizrahi & World Groove group since 2004. She’s a seasoned director, writer, singer and actor in both Canada and Europa.  View her musical work at www.mashala.org and www.salaamshalom.org and her photographic work on JPG Magazine.