Inspirational Obscurae: Chris Drury’s Hut of the Shadows

As we discovered last year, once you start looking for Camera Obscuras you find them everywhere. We’re going to start collecting notable ones on this blog.

The Hut of the Shadows is a nice one to start with because it’s not in the traditional style. If anything it’s in the prehistoric style and looks like a sacred pagan site.

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It’s located on the Isle Of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides, so not one to pop over to for a day trip but we do hope to get to it one day. It was built in 1997 by artist Chris Drury and projects an image of Loch nam Madadh onto a large stone.

Here’s a walking guide.

Here’s a nice pic of it in context:

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Chris Dury is a really interesting artist who has done a lot of work around the principles of the Camera Obscura. He calls these structures “Cloud Chambers” and has built quite a few of them around the country. He says:

The interiors are dark, the entrance being from a door or curved passageway, the floor or viewing surface is white, and there is a small aperture or lens in the ceiling or wall. Images of clouds, branches, waves, landscape, are thus projected inside.

A large preoccupation in my work has been the exploration of what inner and outer nature mean. These cloud chambers are still, silent, meditative and mysterious spaces. Outside, they are discreet objects which sit unobtrusively within the landscape; are in fact made of the material of the landscape. They are often built partially underground, so that in these dark spaces what is outside is brought in and reversed. Clouds drift silently across the floor.

Here’s the 6m diameter Cloud Chamber at the Eden Project:

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Before we installed the mirror on the Portable Camera Obscura it was effectively a cloud chamber. Watching the clouds drift by and the occasional bird dart overhead was a beautiful thing and it’s definitely an experience we hope to explore in the future in our own ways.

Finally, while browsing Chris’ site we found this wonderful proposal for a camera obscura in an abandoned boat on the coast of Sweden titled Sea Change.

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Beautiful!