New show at On the Avenue brings life to the natural world

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Ellie Desgranges poses in front of her photo essay entitled ‘Individuality’, which is part of her Anthrop O Naturel exhibit at On the Avenue Gallery.

Birch Hills based photographer Ellie Desgranges wants to show art lovers how the natural world and humans are alike

Desgranges held the opening reception for her Anthrop O Naturel exhibit at On the Avenue Art Gallery on Saturday. The exhibit recently moved from Saskatoon and will be on display from January to March.

“What I am trying to show with this collection is how similar the human and the natural world are because we are a part of the same world,” Desgranges said. “We are not above or below.

“We are part of the same ecosystem. We are all striving to make the best of life and to survive essentially. It requires certain mental capacities to be able to do that and look after yourself and your families, those of your species, your group, your herd.”

Desgranges said that her style is essentially a storytelling artistic style called new journalism photographic essay. She takes non-fictitious elements—real plants and animals—and photographs them in a manner that looks fictitious.

“I am using anthromorphism, for example, to really show them in a light that gives them a human likeness,” Desgranges said.

She pointed to different plants and animals in the photos and gave examples of human characteristics.

“This owl just looks like he is completely pissed after sitting in the rain all day as I would be working in the field,” she said. “I can relate totally.”

Desgranges has a degree in environment sciences and has worked as a forester and agrologist for the past 10 years. She said working in an environmental field has really changed her perspective as a photographer.

“I can really see how the elements interact amongst themselves and that’s kind of what changed my perspective. I started with a documentary style of photography, the stuff you see every day,” she said.

“The I started trying to instead use photography as a means of expressing how these elements are just like us.”

She explained that her piece entitled Individuality came to her whole she was doing regeneration surveys. The process of going back and forth making grid sampling plots led her to see something in lilies.

“I just walk by these lilies all day, which is awesome but then I started realizing how each was actually really different and every time I would come close to a plant it would give me the impression that it was a person,” she explained.

“I started noticing how each is so different from the next. The dots on the petals are different. The colours are different. The size of the petals are different. Some of them are young. Some of them are old, so it started looking like it’s different facial traits. Displaying them in a grid, I made a point to really picture them in the exact same angle so that all of the differences do come out.

“I want to really emphasize that even though they are plants if you take the time to look they are individuals,”

Desgranges will be back for Meet The Artist events at On the Avenue on February 11 and March 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

She thanked Sask Arts and the and the Conseil Culturel Fransaskois for their support.

“Obviously, I am French, so I was thankfully able to get some grant funding for the framing and the printing of these images,” she said. “Without this funding I wouldn’t have been able to produce this and I’m very, very thankful.”

For more information visit her website