Welcome to my Eyeland!
I’m Ellys, an islomaniac and wanderlusting photographer.
Ellys is the alter ego of Sylvie De Weze, a Belgian travel and landscape photographer.
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Sylvie De Weze lives and works in Mechelen, Belgium. She obtained her Masters Degree in Visual Arts, with a major in photography, cum laude from Hogeschool Sint-Lukas in Brussels, in 1998. She’s a contributor for the Belgian country focus page of online independent publisher of photography Urbanautica and is travel journalist for Stop and Stare.
Islands, both near and far, have long fascinated her photographically. Sylvie has visited more than 140 of them in eighteen countries and on four continents. And counting…
In 2014, she was awarded a working grant by the Pascal Decroos Fund for Investigative Journalism. With this grant she traveled to two remote islands in the South Atlantic and made a documentary called ‘Splendid Isolation?’ about the ups and downs of life in St Helena.
© Isabel Corthier
All the photos on this website were taken on islands. Why islands? That’s where to find it – the ‘island sensation’. It appeals to the imagination, but is difficult to describe. Dutch author and journalist John Jansen van Galen defined it as ‘something between the confinement of not being able to get off and the familiarity of a surveyable society.’ An island wavers between the desire for the promise of an adventurous other side and cherishing a safe (and sometimes oppressive) seclusion among idiosyncratic confidantes. Between a vista of the horizon and introspection. That characterises my island state of mind. Dutch author and professional island lover Boudewijn Büch seduced me with his Islands book series and further stimulated my early love of islands.
Islands are (often vulnerable) miniature worlds that function – either fictionally or really – as testing grounds. From H.G. Wells’ ‘ideal society’ in The Island of Dr. Moreau, to the nuclear testing over Bikini Atoll and the effects of the colonial islands on the income of our modern economies. In that sense, islands can help us to understand the world better, for better or for worse.
Whether you characterise islands in terms of natural prisons, surprising laboratories, romantic dream destinations, survival of the fittest or utopias, island societies are marked by a unique dynamic and ditto self-image. Eccentric, creative and self-willed. My fascination for islands is partly dictated by these characteristics. Granted, that fascination is to some degree suffused with the spirit of romance. The idea of simplicity, compactness and free port. But from experience I know that nothing could be further from the truth. Simple tasks and activities are often much more complicated and the social pressure can be quite extreme on small and/or remote islands.
I couldn’t have described it better myself:
“Islomania is a strange attraction to islands. As far back as the days of Plato’s Atlantis, islands and island nations have been a source fascination and inspiration. While most people attracted to islands were driven by their fantasies of finding better things, others were driven by their need to escape authority. Most people’s idea of an island is a sandy beach that leads to green forests and coconuts trees, but not every island looks like a tropical paradise.” (Source: Scribol.com)
“Islands hold a special place in our collective unconscious. They are places of mystery, discovery, isolation, adventure, and occasionally horror. The mainland is where ordinary life occurs, but islands are special. Gods live on islands; so do monsters.
Throughout literary history, islands have played roles in many of our most revered texts. They have been portrayed as places to confront the unknown (The Odyssey), to remake yourself (Robinson Crusoe), to start a new life (Swiss Family Robinson), to found an ideal society (Utopia), or to face our cruelest selves (Lord of the Flies).
And it’s not just literature: throughout the history of mankind itself, islands have been places where exceptional individuals go beyond themselves to change the world: inventing new styles of art (Gauguin in Tahiti), creating revolutionary theories about the world (Darwin in Galapagos), or developing new ways to destroy the world (atom bomb testing at BikiniAtoll).
The undeniable romance to the idea of living on an island, spanning so much history and so many cultures, leads me to think that it must have several deeply ingrained, maybe even evolutionary, bases. I am currently thinking there are two primary ones: going to an island involves a treacherous journey, and an island is a complete world unto itself. There’s probably much more to it than this, but these facts help lend a mythological quality to island living that goes far deeper than whatever slick marketing techniques can be mustered to entice people to a destination.” (Source: TheAmbler.com)
All the photos on this website were taken on short and long hikes on islands.
Walking is one of my favourite activities, besides taking photos and travelling. If and when possible, I like to combine all three. Ellys Eyeland is my proof of that. To me, walking is the most natural rhythm to travel and absorb a place, and one that lends itself particularly well to photography. It is my sports and my philosophy. The most famous walking photographer is British artist Hamish Fulton who elevated walking photography to an art form.
Various people have asked me where the name Ellys Eyeland comes from. I shall unveil the mystery. Ellys is my old nickname spelled backwards and beautiful first name that alliterates with Eyeland. Eyeland refers to both islands and photography. Furthermore, Ellys Eyeland is a reference to Ellis Island in New York. Ellis Island was the point of transit for millions of migrants that signalled the point of entry to ‘a brave new world’ – America. A place of hope and future.
Besides islands, I have a number of other fascinations: lighthouses, volcanoes, graveyards and abandoned places. You will undoubtedly see these feature prominently in my island series or check Pinterest.
All images on this website were photographed by Sylvie De Weze. All images are copyright and owned by Sylvie De Weze. Under no circumstances shall these images be used, reproduced, copied, displayed, transferred, stored, manipulated in any media without the consent of Sylvie De Weze.