Remembering Ella Lacey-Brown
My sweet friend, Ella, passed away on November 12, 2022, after a courageous battle with cancer. She leaves to mourn her husband, Stephen, her young son, Harley, her mom, Karen, and countless friends and family members all around the world.
Ella was an integral part of my self-publishing journey. When I started writing, Things That Shine in late 2018, I was on the hunt for a photographer that would be able to capture some photographs for the book. I put a call out on a Facebook page for ex-pats in Switzerland, and Ella responded to me immediately. Once I had looked through her portfolio and chatted with her for a little bit, I knew she was the perfect person for the job.
Though we lived in different parts of Switzerland, Ella found a perfect shoot location that was roughly halfway for each of us. She knew that I wanted a forest theme, so we met at a café not far from Lenzburg, and drove together to a beautifully baren area she knew of. When I first saw her big, warm smile, I knew I was going to love her energy and vibe. (spoiler alert: I DID!)
Ella, being from Australia and having lived in London before arriving in Switzerland, knew all about the ups and downs that ex-pat life presented. I was still freshly immigrated, and had spent my first year and a half having babies and trying to adapt to Swiss culture. Being able to share our very similar experiences was such a comfort to me.
We spent a couple of hours in the forest, sharing stories, doing impromptu wardrobe changes, tapping into the beauty of the forest. I remember leaving from the shoot and thinking, 'wow, that did me good!'.
After that day, we kept in touch regularly, and were always cheering each other on. As creative freelancers (Ella- a photographer, me a writer) our opportunities often overlapped.We collaborated on several creative projects over the years. In 2019, we were both featured in Sovereign magazine's Women Rock Switzerland edition. A few months later, Ella's interview in the Slovakian magazine, EMMA, featured two of the pictures she took of me. We giggled about how neither of us had EVER been in a magazine before, and all of a sudden, we met, and were in TWO. An upstoppable creative dyad, we were!
In 2020, I interviewed her while working for the parenting website, BabyGaga. I was so touched by her Love Letters to Australia project, and wanted to share it with a broader audience. She was just the type of person to always think of others, and to do whatever she could to help those in need. This project, sending love letters to those affected by the devastating bush fires in Australia, is just one small example of her deep compassion for humanity.
I was watching the news coverage of the bush fires obsessively; I could not comprehend how much devastation they were causing and I felt helpless. It soon became clear that many people were feeling the same way so I decided that I would make sure that their messages of love, solidarity, and hope could be shared. The project was a way to create human connection. Over 50 people took part all over Switzerland, writing their own letters and having their portrait taken to sit alongside it. -Ella Lacey Brown
In 2021, we met again (in a different forest, this time!) for another photoshoot for my second book, Shadow Work: Poems. I was going through the early days of a separation, and I showed up to the shoot feeling completely shadowy and heartbroken. Ella encouraged me to just feel whatever I needed to feel, and not force anything for the camera. Just being able to exist in that moment without having to pretend that I was OK was one of the greatest blessings of her friendship. She understood the complexities and ranges of human emotion, and wasn't afraid to sit with me (quite literally) in the darkness. In my dark moments, she held space for me to feel what I needed to feel, and her authentic presence that day for such a comfort to me. And of course, being Ella, she wanted to help. She encouraged me to call her if I ever needed to vent or cry, and even told me I could go and spend a few days at her place if I ever needed a respite from the situation.
I last spoke to Ella in May of 2022. I was getting ready to move back to Canada, and wrapping up my third book, Helvetica. I wanted her to take the photos for this last poetry collection, but since life was so busy for us both, we didn't get the time. She had hinted that she was dealing with some more health issues, but I didn't know that they would lead to this. I wish I had made the time to see my friend one last time. Life is like that though, we don't know when the last time is. And I'm glad that last message was filled with love and well wishes for each other. In true Ella fashion, she was giving ME support as I was starting to say goodbye to the Swiss chapter of my life.
In honour of my beautiful, creative friend, I wanted to share some of the photographs she took in our shoots. I am SO grateful for her involvement in my creative journey, and am so happy that her pictures will forever be a part of these books.
Love and Light
Rest easy you beautiful soul.