The Origami Camera Obscura Project with artist Ann Walker

By now, many of you will be familiar with our shed Camera Obscura. A real camera obscura that sits proudly at the top of Boundary Way Allotments as a magical place for contemplation and the discovery of nature. The artist who created our amazing camera obscura is Ann Walker, who was instrumental in the formation of the Boundary Way Project and is an international artist with a particular interest in visual and performing arts. Since working on our community camera obscura, Ann has moved to Wales and is beginning a new project creating origami camera obscuras for community and public spaces. Today we are going to learn all about her fantastic new project, which will be bringing people even closer to nature by encouraging them to stop and observe the world in a new way.

Here Ann describes what a camera obscura is…

“The Camera Obscura is an ancient optical device.  In its most basic form it is, quite simply, a dark room with a small hole in one wall.  When light enters the hole it projects an image of the outside world onto the inner surface of the camera”

Ann plans to create several, small camera obscuras, which will be placed in different Welsh community gardens and public spaces in the hope that people will discover them and take time to slow down and experience the world in a different way. Each of the origami camera obscuras will be fully biodegradable, apart from the lenses, and the aims of the project include the ideas of sharing, the passage of time, giving people a sense of place and encouraging them to take time to stop and stare at the beauty of the world around us.  All in hope that they will enter into a heightened sense of intimacy with nature and the every day.


Origami Camera Obscura

Through the origami camera obscura on location

To create each camera obscura Ann will use biodegradable card and cotton plus cellulose tape, these camera obscuras will then each be fitted with a lens and covered in organic materials. These natural materials will be chosen for their ability to blend into their natural surroundings and how waterproof they are, as they need to be able to withstand the Welsh weather for as long as possible! Ann has been researching native, waterproof plants and trees in order to ensure the camera obscuras will last.  Ann thinks it will be really interesting to see how people interact with the camera obscuras, whether they decide to use them, take them or leave them where they are.  Eventually, however, if they are left, or not taken away by visitors, they will eventually rot and become part of the forests or gardens as they are reclaimed by nature. This is all part of the natural process, in a similar process to the temporary land art of our recent artist in residence, Richard Shilling, and once the camera obscuras have disappeared Ann will collect the lenses, and recycle them in new camera obscuras.

Can you spot the camera obscura?

Can you spot the camera obscura?

Ann has carried out a trial on the first camera obscura, which faired the Welsh weather really well, and is now ready to share her camera obscura. She will place the first one in a public space and Ann hopes to document and share its journey with us.  We are so excited by this fascinating project and can’t wait to see how it grows. Have you ever tried out a camera obscura? Whether you have, or not, be sure to visit our shed camera obscura at Boundary Way on one of our Open Days to experience the magic for yourself.

Or better still why not visit us on 26th May 2018 for our Photography Open Day? Alongside other artists, Ann will be  giving a talk on the exciting history of the camera obscura and running a workshop where you can make you very own origami camera obscura. This is an amazing opportunity not to be missed, book here now. This workshop is made possible by funding from Heritage Lottery.

Thanks to Ann for sharing her wonderful arts project with us and providing the images for this blog post.

The obscura on location

The obscura on location

Leave A Comment