Since 2013, acclaimed Sydney-based photographer Robyn Stacey has been transforming entire rooms into walk-in camera obscuras. Masking windows to leave just a ray of light, the view outside is projected, as if by magic, over the room’s interiors, but upside down and in reverse. This dream-like moving scene does the opposite of a shadow. It casts trees, drifting clouds, even towering buildings, over the internal architecture and its inhabitant’s belongings.
“It’s like being in your own private movie”, says Stacey, who photographs this inside-outside union in the fleeting minutes when light and composition are just right.
Notable artist studios and residences provide the sites for this new series, which features Rose Seidler House in Sydney, built by architect Harry Seidler, Hans Heysen’s painting studio in Adelaide, Wendy Whiteley’s home at Lavender Bay and Yvonne and Arthur Boyd’s residence at Bundanon.
Stacey’s imagination was piqued by spaces that felt potent, imbued by a person’s presence and unique creative identity. Her photographs, in this sense, are like intimate yet unconventional portraits of Australia’s most esteemed creators; their personas expressed by their private surroundings rather than their faces.
Offering a rare glimpse into the working havens of artists—those otherwise mysterious spaces from which inspiration seems to miraculously emerge—with these images we also view the world beyond to which they may have gazed in quiet moments of reflection.
Robyn Stacey is one of Australia's most respected photographers, having created spectacular and sumptuous images since the mid-1980s. In 2016, she was included in Magic Object: The Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia, presenting camera obscura images that were made in and around Adelaide. Previously, in 2015, she held a major exhibition at Museum of Brisbane that featured a series of commissioned camera obscura photographs, created in various locations around the city.
Three substantial publications, Home (2011), Museum (2007) and Herbarium (2004), beautifully capture Stacey’s fascination with archives, artifacts and specimens, and offer unique insight into the collections of the New South Wales Living Museums, the Macleay Collection at Sydney University, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. Stacey has been the recipient of major awards, grants and residencies, and her work is held in numerous public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of Western Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of South Australia, Queensland Art Gallery, the New South Wales Historic Houses Trust, the City of Sydney, Samstag Museum and Artbank.