Was this taken on Earth?
Well, of course it was. What could say Earth more clearly than such a picture? But it hardly seems to be the mundane earth we trod through so carelessly every day. Glorfindel should ride round that corner. Who knows what might be found dancing amongst those trees. Here is such laughing splendor of gold and green. Here is such a profusion of life and glory of light and and rich suggestion of earthy depth below. Some other world – not in the sense people often use that term, not a lesser, littler, wispier world, but a greater deeper, richer world. It is one of the greatest things art can do to remind us that our ‘mundane earth’ is in fact that rich and glorious world. (And perhaps to wake our minds to a world deeper yet … but that’s beyond the scope of this piece.) ‘Break Through’, by Nelleke – for me at any rate – does this beautifully.
There are a great many ‘forest’ photographs on Deviantart, many of which are marvelous. But I do not know that any have quite such rich resplendence of life or such light – at once glorious and subtle – as Nelleke’s photographs do. When looking through her gallery, one scarcely knows where to turn, for not just the beautiful – but the exquisite lies on every hand.
The primary note that her gallery leaves me with is the lush verdancy of summer woods, half-hidden clearings and sheltered lanes. But there is in truth great variety in her work, even – in contrast to ‘Break Through’ – some which capture chillingly wide-windswept bleakness, with its own kind of stark beauty.
‘Scottish Reflections’ chief feature seems to me to be the great expanse of open air. The trees and the scarf of fog are far away. It sits almost strangely in the gallery, far less inviting than the woodlands which surround it. Yet it is stunning. One seems to draw a deep breath of cool air when one looks into it; it seems so present. It seems like one could skim across that lake, towards those valleys, the distance seems so real.
She also has some amazing ‘conceptual’ works often containing little more than a hand in light. Yet somehow, they too burst with the fantastical. (She doesn’t sell prints on deviantart, but she does sell some on a separate website🙂
When all is said and done, I believe her main note is also the best; perhaps simply because no cityscape, no bleak moor can compete in beauty or richness with the woodland. Though more of us now live in cities than woods, the woods are in some ways more our place than the environments we have made ourselves. ‘Break Through’ may not be Nelleke’s best work, but I believe it is one of the best works on Deviantart. I want to run down that road, and I want to linger amongst the ferns in that shaft of golden light.
Art Criticism by Charlotte Ann Kent