In anticipation of Anna Carey’s new series to be unveiled as part of PHOTO2024, Sophie Gannon Gallery presents a survey exhibition of select images from the artist’s previous series.

Anna Carey is an Australian artist based between the Gold Coast and Los Angeles whose work overlaps photography, model-making, film, and drawing. Through memory and imagination, she creates fictive architectural spaces based on familiar iconic architecture which she photographs. The camera lens magnifies the model with all its imperfections and reminds the viewer that the photograph has been constructed with a miniature materialized object. This aims to reawaken imaginations for the viewer by creating a space of stillness and reflection for one to drift between reality and daydreams – for rediscovering the universe that is inside us. At first glance this disorientates the viewer, however dwelling longer the miniature encourages a moment of stillness for one to be with the space.
The spaces Carey creates stem from childhood memories of her hometown, the Gold Coast. “… When I encounter familiar spaces, fragmented memories and imaginations flood my new experience. The work mines this fleeting moment in my mind from which the models are then built. In turn, I create a space of the imagination where I inhabit my daydreams and the viewer can inhabit theirs….”
The style of architecture from the Gold Coast that is embedded in the artists memory includes a vernacular mix of holiday shacks, high-rises, roadside motels, and suburban homes. The city and its architecture were built on notions of leisure, fantasy, escape and change, looking to places in America for architectural inspiration. This style of architecture emerged and developed rapidly in the United States, especially in the automotive orientated cities of Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Miami. Early in her practice she was depicting the architecture of the Gold Coast to represent the fluid city and gain a sense of place. As her practice developed, expanding her research to the cities the Gold Coast copied and travelled to America, where she later relocated to reflect on this style of strip city from a global perspective.
Since traveling to America her work has developed to represent a more global generic architectural style. This can be seen in the series Stardust (2015), which consists of a suite of ten images of Stardust motels in different parts of America and Australia. To create the works, she sourced images on the internet through vintage postcards and then revisited them through Google Maps. The works exist in both ‘then’ and ‘now’ versions to show how the buildings have changed over time. The series uses international examples of Stardust motels to exemplify the world-wide homogeneity of a style of architecture in distant yet connected contemporary cultures. In addition, presenting a set of similar motels also provides an opportunity to identify minute details and idiosyncrasies particular to place.
This notion of place that emerges through generic architecture is further explored in the series In Search of Rainbows (2017), which consists of interior spaces dominated by a single colour – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and pink – similar to the rainbow spectrum. Employing Google Maps, she used the online data for colour-mapping and geo-tagged colour clusters to identify dominant colour across the world. The work explores the connection between place, space, memory and colour, and its ability to evoke a sensory rush. Carey merges research lived experience and global dream memory to form a place that could be anywhere. By drawing from international generic spaces, I aim for others to inhabit the daydreams ‘housed’ within them. Accessing this dream realm allows people to have their own authentic experience with a space that is mass produced and typically understood as ‘inauthentic.’ Transcending the homogeneity of the everyday into a dream state of dislocation invites people to identify difference and indifference and therefore reconnect with themselves and place themselves in the world.
The Faraway series further explores the idea of a global architectural style and dream memory. Carey shifted her focus from iconic motels and holiday homes in predominately postmodern cities in Australia and North America to other places in the world such as Europe. “…The works are based on walking the streets when travelling and being triggered like a ‘Proustian’ moment of recalling memories that evoke a familiar feeling like déjà vu, as if I had been there before. This process emulates the creation of homes and motels in Australia in which people create their own suburban castles by mixing vernacular and international styles to create a sense of fantasy and escape while at home. Permeating Faraway is a longing for escapism as the promise of escape has always underpinned holiday destinations, tourist cities and even sometimes the local
suburbs…”. Excerpts originally published in Artist Profile, Issue 50, 2020.