Upside Down at The Good Garden.

October 13 ,2017 BY Nova Nelson

In September, Isabelle Desjeux created a series of fun and quirky papier marche Camera Obscuras and a pipe periscope Camera Obscura for the Beyond Gardening programme at The Good Garden, The Artground. 

It was a brave feat because most of the cameras were made out of paper and the rainy season was looming. But the cameras are in good shape and if you haven't experienced a Camera Obscura before please head on to The Good Garden at The Artground, Goodman Art Centre. If the weather is good, Isabelle's Camera Obscura will be in the garden for you and your child to experience from Wednesdays - Sundays. 

Why did the Camera Obscura matter to us? 

At it's most basic it demonstrates that light can pass through a tiny hole and reflect  or if you want be recorded upside down on a screen that is placed parallel to the hole. You can create a Camera Obscura to make use of this optical phenomenon in which light rays reverse when passing through a small aperture. 

Sometimes we take for granted what is around us, the trees, nature, plants, fact familiarity makes us forget. We often need to take a step back, stop and relook at things differently. To check in and see if we've missed something. If there is another point of view.  So to us, this is what The Camera Obscura does, a back to basics devise that still presents wonder.  

I've known in theory what a Camera Obscura is. But knowing is not the same as having experienced through doing and making. As Isabelle installed her cameras, we goofed around looking at the Good Garden through these lenses and we experienced something magical. It was an old-fashioned basic method that produced a surreal reflection - a mix of fact and fantasy. Isabelle's Camera Obscura's made us look at the Good Garden differently.

Here she is talking about why and how she started creating Camera Obscura.

A tool you can make. 

Camera Obscura were tools. An invention created thousands of years ago but once you understand how it works you can infuse it with technology or apply it many creative ways. While making our own Camera Obscura out of recycled cardboard boxes and tubes we learnt how to play with light, lenses, focus, distance. We observed why dark spaces are important and how to let light in. We learnt that these were tools draughtsmen and painters used thousands of years ago. A tool, that became the prototype for the modern day cameras we use today. And for some, it was a great toy to show off after the workshop. One you can make as gifts for friends too. 

We knew kids would love it. And they have. We ran two parent and child workshops with Isabelle. The Camera Obscura Isabelle made are really special and so if you are looking for something to do with your kids, come drop by The Good Garden at The Artground from Wednesdays to Sundays to experience these Camera Obscuras by Isabelle Desjeux. You can follow Isabelle and her work here

Leaving you with a quote from Abelardo Morell a photographer who uses the Camera Obscura extensively:

"Artists, the good ones, tend to re-create the world for us. Just as you think you are tired of this whole world, there is a new way of looking at it” —Abelardo Morell

If you have a group of parents and students who would like to learn how to make Camera Obscuras together, drop us a note at  

Nova Nelson

Nova Nelson started Cultivate Central in 2013 after transitioning from a career in Corporate Communications, content creation and community engagement. As a Permaculture Designer she believes a city filled with vibrant, ecological and compact urban gardens will create socially and environmentally connected communities. As a mother she is passionate about exploring Permaculture with children and their communities. She serves clients and communities in Malaysia, where she was born and Singapore where she currently resides.

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