Robyn Stacey Essay

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  • Topic: 19th century, Petri dish, Julius Richard Petri
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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...
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