Guest Relations 9 October to 9 November 2013 Stills Gallery 36 Gosbell Street Paddington, NSW, Art photographer Robyn …



Guest Relations

9 October to 9 November 2013
Stills Gallery
36 Gosbell Street Paddington, NSW, Australia

Art photographer Robyn Stacey’s new series combines the simplest form of the camera, the ‘camera obscura’, with high-end digital photography to explore a specific context: the hotel room. The project explores the fleeting and ephemeral experience and how this is captured as a moment out of time, by the photographic still.


Room 13
Michael and Katherine

Artist Statement

Robyn Stacey, 2013

“The project, Guest Relations, was developed for an Artist in Residency earlier this year, at the Sofitel on Collins in Melbourne, renowned for its uninterrupted panoramic views over Melbourne city.

The aim of the residency was to explore the hermetic, but transient nature of the hotel room.


Room 155
Hyde Park Inn


As the view is a significant part of the hotel experience I wanted to incorporate the external cityscape into the interior. By making the room into a camera obscura (the simplest and earliest form of pin-hole camera) the external view is then naturally projected back into the room, upside down and in reverse, allowing me to photograph the view and the room together in one image.



This visual combination creates a unique and powerful dreamlike setting that serves as the backdrop and creates an environment for the guests to be photographed in. There are no tricks ““ just utilising the earliest and simplest form of photography to produce spectacular cinematic results.

The people in the photographs are not models and they bring their personality to the rooms, in a sense creating their own narratives. The project has since been extended to Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.”  



Room 3907
Sofitel on Collins

Gallery Statement

Stills Gallery

Turning from high fidelity studio photography to the non-digital process of camera obscura, Stacey brings our gaze to contemporary life and the transitory meetings of private and public worlds within the modern hotel room.

Like pinhole photography, the ‘camera obscura’ allows light in through a tiny hole in order to project a scene from outside onto an inside surface.

Stacey recreates this process with ambitious scale and in unexpected settings, transforming the interiors of high-rise city hotel chains and quiet coastline holiday destinations, into darkrooms for dramatically projected landscape vistas.




This historical form of image making, which Caravaggio and Vermeer are said to have used to create their impressive Baroque paintings, elaborately decorates the hotels rooms by wallpapering them with the world outside their windows.

Normally characterised by modern minimalism and standardised comforts, these interiors are covered with the colonnades of buildings, the cityscapes of roads, rivers and parks (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane) and the turquoise shores of a sunbather’s paradise, such as the Gold Coast in Qld.




Businessmen, young couples, and solo travelers are actors in these dreamlike scenarios; the upside-down, reversed and distorted visual effects of camera obscura, produce surreal and psychological spaces which seem to materialise their inhabitants’ distant thoughts.


Like stills from the sets of movies, Stacey’s images offer us fragments of untold narratives. Intimate and enigmatic moments glimpse the plethora of stories we can only imagine might play out within a hotel rooms’ four walls: the melodramas of domestics, the passionate professions of love, and the time-slowing boredom and loneliness that might accompany a life spent in endless waiting.


Through the theatrical and distorted view of camera obscura, a roving, fragmented and homogenised portrait of contemporary life is revealed. But by imbuing the transitory with the timeless, Stacey suggests that behind these closed, generic doors, we may all be looking outwards, seeking moments of beauty, clarity and meaningful connection.



Room 4821
Sofitel on Collins


Through Robyn Stacey’s photography we imagine other people’s private worlds. For the past 5 years her spectacular compositions have also breathed new life into the old families of Sydney ““ House; Museum; & Herbarium (all of which have been released as books) – reviving their personal objects from historic collections to evoke scenes as if they’ve just exited the room, leaving only a sprinkling of crumbs.



Room 1516
Mercure, Potts Point

About Robyn Stacey

Robyn Stacey is one of Australia’s most acclaimed and leading contemporary art photographers. She has exhibited nationally and internationally since the mid 1980s, including recent group and solo shows at the National Gallery of Australia, Monash Gallery of Art, Australian Centre for Photography and AIPAD, New York. Her large and striking images are held in the permanent collections of Artbank, National Gallery of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of Western Australia, National Gallery of Victoria and Queensland Art Gallery, as well as numerous university, corporate and private collections.


She has been commissioned for major projects by leading institutions in Australia and overseas, including National Houses Trust, Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney, University of Sydney, The Royal North Shore Hospital, University of Illinois (USA), University of Leiden (Netherlands) and a scholarship to study at the School of Visual Arts in New York.


Stacey’s work has been published in three beautifully presented monographs, House (2011); Museum (2007); and Herbarium (2004).


House was also a feature exhibition at the Museum of Sydney October 2011″“February 2012 to co-incide with the launch of the book.


[Text and images courtesy]  



Room 2016



Room 14