ROBYN STACEY is a well-known Australian photographer who has exhibited large and powerful images both in Australia and overseas. Stacey’s work shows a fascination with the use of history to inform our present. Her interest in archives from museums led to her taxonomy artworks in which she researched and photographed archival repositories from museums in Australia and overseas. The artworks produced from these collections show powerful and striking photographic arrangements. The photographs allow a current day audience to view 18th and 19th century specimens and artefacts in a new light.
Stacey’s work is influenced by Dutch Still Life tradition and taxonomy. PART A: Look at the Robyn Stacey artwork below titled “Squadron” and answer the following questions using the STRUCTURAL frame. NOTE: Definition of the Structural frame: ‘Artists often create their own visual language using codes, symbols or signs to convey their meaning. We can interpret these works by analysing the elements of line, direction, shape, size, tone, texture and colour. An understanding of which element is most important to an artist can help us to discover the artist’s techniques. (Artwise 2, Glenis Israel) Squadron, 2002 from The Collector’s Nature Type C print 100 x 100cm, edition of 5 1. What is the focal point of “Squadron”? How has Stacey achieved this? (2 marks) The focal point of the artwork “Squadron” is the large bug in the middle of the artwork. This is achieved as the focal point by Stacey using several techniques. One of these includes the contrast of warm and cool colours, Stacey intentionally used a background of blue which contrasts with the yellows and reds of the large bug creating a bolder image.
Another technique that Stacey has used is the circular border/shape of the image, the circle closes in on the shape created a sharper, more rounded image leading your eyes directly to the bug in the middle. 2. What does the term taxonomy refer to? How has this influenced the layout of Stacey’s work? (4 marks) (Refer to features of the artwork in your response. ) Taxonomy is a term used to describe the study or classification of living organisms. This is depicted in Robyn Stacey’s artwork by the layout/position of the bugs, they appear as though they have been pinned, or sprawled out and are not in a position that is natural.
Another way taxonomy is portrayed is by the circular shape in the artwork, this makes it appear as though it is being looked at through a lens, or a microscope – a tool used commonly when classifying bugs. 3. Identify two of the elements that can be found in the artwork “Squadron”? Describe how they are used in the artwork. (4 marks) Colour: Stacey uses colour very effectively in this artwork to portray the message she wishes to convey. She uses base knowledge of warm and cool colours in order to create interest, focusing warm colours on the foreground and cool colours in the background.
The contrast that this creates enhances the artwork further by drawing your eye towards the focal point. Shape: Stacey uses shape in her artwork. This is done by the shapes of the bugs that surround the larger bug in the middle, and the rounded outside – all make the artwork appear as it is closing in on the main feature (the large bug). PART B: Read the attached article “Robyn Stacey” by Amy Morgan to answer the following questions. 1. What do you think is the subjective response of the author, Amy Morgan? (That is: what is the author’s personal opinion of Robyn Stacey’s work?
How does it make her feel or what does it make her think? Include a quote from the article. ) (3 marks) Through reading the article it is clear that the author believes that Stacey’s work is innovative and intelligent, her opinion is definitely in favor of the artist, directly stating, “The quality of Stacey’s work is vibrant and energetic. ” Through saying this, we are able to grasp the feel of the article, the author also goes on to describe Stacey’s work using words like, “Golden Glow and Magic Eye Quality,” it quickly becomes clear through her prominent positive adjectives that she holds merit to Stacey’s name. . Define the following words from the article (5 marks): Penchant: When you have either the habit or tendency to do things of a particular nature, or you have a love for a particular thing. Montage: When you place different parts of different designs to form a new artwork. Composition: When things are put together to create a formation or construction Sublime: To be outstanding or flawless, to cause feelings of admiration. Iconised: To form an image or create a focal point. Renaissance : To be inspired by the works of art/literature from centuries 14-16 Pandora’s Box: A tale in Greek Mythology.
Aesthetic: Something concerned with the overall appearance of a piece. 3. Use one of the above words in a sentence to describe one of Stacey’s artworks referred to in the article (“Fruit and Sky I” OR “Vortex”) (See images at back of the article). (2 marks) Fruit and Sky I, is an artwork by Robyn Stacey finished in 2003. This sublime artwork features an iconized Pineapple image with a background of sky and features of butterflies in the composition. PART C: Use the image below titled “Nineteenth Century Parasite” and your knowledge about Robyn Stacey from the article and your own research to answer the following questions.
Consider how the CULTURAL frame can be used in viewing artworks. NOTE: Definition of the Cultural Frame: ‘Within the cultural frame, we look at the influence of society or cultural background on an artwork. An artwork may reflect or comment on such aspects of culture as religion, politics, social status, race relations, gender concerns, influence of economics and technology. With this frame we ask ourselves why an artwork was made and what is its purpose. ‘ (Artwise 2, Glenis Israel) Nineteenth Century Parasite, 2006 from Beau Monde Lenticular 90 x 90cm, edition of 5 + AP 1.
Based on the above artwork and your knowledge of Robyn Stacey, what do you think is the intention of this artwork? What message is it trying to show? (4 marks) The bug in this image appears to be in a petri dish, a tool commonly used in the observation and preservation of bugs. Perhaps the intention of this artwork relates to the technological advancement of instruments used in viewing bugs. In the 19th century as technology was not as developed and petri dishes were one of the only ways to examine specimens. I believe the intention of the artwork is to contrast that of 19th century taxonomy with modern day art. . How has scientific knowledge influenced this artwork? (Refers to features of the artwork in your answer) (3 marks) Scientific knowledge has had a vast impact on the outcome of this artwork, this is evident through many different aspects all relative to taxonomy. The first way that this is exemplified is through the petri dish image, this is a tool used in science to view and conserve organisms. The second way this is shown is through the effect or the style the image has been taken, it appears to look like an x-ray partly due to its translucent exterior.
The final way this image has been scientifically influenced is through the position of the bug, it appears sprawled out and is shown in a way that is very staged or intentional. 3. Morgan wrote in her review “Stacey closely observes the historic link between passionate collecting and the scientific investigation of Australia as a paradise of natural history. ” How is this shown in the artwork? (Remember to consider the title of the artwork and the date it was made to strengthen your response. ) (4 marks) This is relevant to Stacey’s artwork as it coincides completely with the phrase in the article.
The fact that the artwork entitled 19th Century Parasite was produced in 2006 in itself creates contrast between the development of classification of the years. What she shows is how the collecting of organisms grew from being a hobby to ultimately being accepted as a branch and study of science, this is shown by the bug in this image that has been collected in a petri dish. The whole concept and idea of taxonomy was not designed and recognized until the latter half of the 19th Century and as a result Stacey targets this to contrast with modern day classification.