b 1952
“As long as my work doesn’t become lazy and I start churning out what I think people want, I’ll keep on going.”  

            Robyn Stacey was born in Brisbane in 1952 and all through her schooldays did not regard herself as being in any way artistic. It was not until she completed a photography course as part of an arts degree at Queensland University that she decided that photography in some form would be her career.

            Her first series, the 1982 hand-coloured Queensland - Out West, was bought by the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. Several series of montage-based work followed, including Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Redline 7000, with accompanying successful exhibitions in Australia and Japan. When she moved from wet darkroom to computer manipulation of her images, the detail and layering in her work increased, but it always retained a traditional film-based origin.


           Robyn describes it thus: "I started doing some plant photography in 1992 and that was really as a kind of balance to the science and technology that had gone before. We moved house and I started planting things and you get an awareness, if you plant organic things, of how they grow.

            "Then I started to keep the plants. I’d photograph them in first bloom and then I’d photograph them six weeks later and then three months later and then eighteen months later and as they decayed I found them more potent and more interesting. I found a lot of material in the Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney which I found a natural kind of place to go because there’s a million dried specimens and they date right back. There are some I’ve photographed which were collected in 1850 and others in the collection that were collected by Joseph Banks when he accompanied Captain Cook on the Endeavour through the South Pacific in 1770. This led to the series and exhibitions Hothouse and At First Site."

            Robyn's work has also led to several large-format books.


            In this film Robyn talks of her life, the various stages and themes of her photographic output and the wide range of subjects embraced by it. With her, we follow the various processes involved in arriving at the finished images, be they several negatives sandwiched together in the enlarger, a multitude of images brought together in the computer or the components involved in the creation of a three-dimensional work, before printing them out for an exhibition, hanging the works in the gallery and finally celebrating on opening night.

            As Robyn says, "Would I describe myself as an artist? I think people still have a sort of problem with 'photographer-artist'. I mean, I’ve had periods where I’ve thought 'Should I just give it away? Why am I doing it? Am I kidding myself?'

            "But I think everyone goes through this. And the thing that’s always kept me going is that I always think it’s made me smarter, in that I’ve learnt a lot through an art practice. It’s introduced me to things I would never have known about, I’ve read things I would never have read, had it not been through my work. I keep thinking that as long as that’s happening then I’m happy to keep going."


"If I got to the point where it was just like 'Well, I’ll churn out another' or 'Oh everyone loves that thing so I should just make lots of those things', then I think it would be time to call it a day. So as long as it keeps evolving, and you really feel like you’re growing through the work, then it’s worth doing."

– Robyn Stacey




The DVD of Words on Light : Robyn Stacey will be available from Artsdoc Australia.

For further details please click here.


DVD video    16:9    PAL    colour    stereo sound    58 minutes


Words on Light : Robyn Stacey credits


Robyn can be contacted through Stills Gallery in Paddington, Sydney.


  For more information on the individual photographers, please click on the links below

Jeff Carter      David Moore      Wolfgang Sievers      Robert Walker