Naked City Guide


Anna Carey


Hails from: Palm Beach

It’s a tendency of cash-devoid students to spend their final years of uni living in dilapidated, pre-renovation fixer-uppers carpeted in 70s shag. Anna Carey spent hers reimagining those spaces for art. In her work, the 24-year-old Griffith visual media graduate deals with the fibro beach shacks and candy-coloured architecture of the Gold Coast – a cityscape drenched in sun, memories and mixed emotions about redevelopment. Recognising its cultural value the Gold Coast City Gallery has purchased her 2009 exteriors work for their collection, while terrace-dwelling Sydneysiders perused giclée images from her 2010 interiors collection during the October Built exhibition at Artereal Gallery. Naked chats to the 2011 Churchie National Emerging Art Exhibition finalist and Gold Coast native.


Naked: Viewers are often stunned that the photographs from your work are taken of miniature model houses you build from scratch. Why not exhibit the models?

Anna: I show the photographs without the models so the spaces become ambiguous. I want to create an imaginative space where the viewer can question the strangely familiar place. Exhibiting the models would deny the viewer the opportunity to ask.

Your models are built from layers of photographs featuring retro patterns and surfaces.  What did you do to collect the images?

Initially I set out creating spaces by documenting the highway hotels and houses that still existed along the strip. But the real spaces continued changing – I was unable to pin them down. I began to fill in the changes with my imagination. My interiors were created purely through memory recall as the only reference point. The spaces became a combination of fragments of my spatial experiences, memories and imagination.

How do you manage light in your photographs?

In my first body of work I photographed the exteriors in the studio. In my interiors I used natural light, which was actually an accident… I was just experimenting with taking photos of the models in my backyard. The bright sunlight and dreamy landscape evoked feelings of my experiences within these spaces, so I had to go with it.

What are you working on at the moment?

I have just started a body of work for a new work grant to extend my practice into video work. Lately I’ve been really inspired by the sub-tropical natural environment and how it has influenced the Gold Coast and its architecture as a place of fantasy and escape. I would like to capture the way we slip in and out of these different worlds. 

Do you think people are starting to place more value on Gold Coast architecture which has always been considered cheesy or tacky?

I think some people are not placing as many negative stereotypes on the architecture and instead trying to understand it and embrace it’s uniqueness. I think it’s a city worth observing, with new postmodern urban formations and architecture. We can learn a lot from it.


View more of Anna’s work at Artereal Gallery

For more information on Anna’s work, check out the Jan/Feb edition of Inside Out Magazine