Photographer Robyn Stacey turns historic rooms into camera obscuras


In her latest solo exhibition, photographer Robyn Stacey uses the ancient technology of the camera obscura (Latin for ‘dark room’) to create surreal, topsy-turvy images in which gardens seem to dangle from bedroom ceilings and clouds appear to race across carpets.

“The external world outside the window frame is assimilated into the room, but because light travels in a straight lines ‘the view’ appears upside down and in reverse, creating new dreamlike scenarios,” Stacey explains.

“It is this in-between space that I find so fascinating: you are in the world but removed from it at the same time. You can see everything that is happening outside the window, but it’s like being in your own private movie.”

Stacey’s multilayered, colour-saturated images are created without digital manipulation. They capture what she calls a “temporary liminal space, a visual mash-up of ‘out’ and ‘in’ side”. This haunting collision of exterior and interior is fleeting, since each camera obscura is dependent on the angle of the sun and only lasts for a few hours.

Stacey first began using a camera obscura to record the transitional space of hotel rooms. Then in her Cloud Land series, some of which will be on show at Stills, she concentrated on the city of Brisbane. In her most recent photographs, she focuses on spaces inhabited by artists.

Stacey explains the allure of these interiors, saying, “We seek to be moved by the artist’s space, as if by walking through the studio we will suddenly be struck with inspiration. Or perhaps by gazing at the space we will start to make sense of the artist’s persona. The myth of the artist becomes absorbed into the fabric of the building, making them very potent spaces.”

Robyn Stacey
Stills Gallery
6 October – 5 November

Preview Words by Tracey Clement