Discovering Neroche

Revealing the landscape

The Neroche Camera Obscura

Landscape – its appreciation and safeguard – is at the heart of the Neroche Scheme’s objectives.  But while landscape is something just about everyone appreciates in some way, it is so taken for granted that it can be hard to focus people’s attention on it, and its components, in a fresh and arresting way.  This project sets out to use an ancient technology, and public art, to create a versatile tool for bringing the Blackdown Hills landscape to life.

Camera obscuras are primitive cameras, which project light from a pinhole onto a screen inside a darkened chamber.  They capture the scene outside and magically bring it to life as an inverted moving image inside. 

Camera obscuras have been used as seaside attractions and educational tools for centuries.  Promoted in the nineteenth century as ‘The Magic Mirror of Life’, they are invariably a source of fascination to audiences in any location.

In the context of a special protected landscape like the Blackdown Hills however, a camera obscura offers a serious but entertaining tool for animating the subject of landscape characterisation, and helping public audiences to look at ‘the view’ afresh. 

This camera obscura is built in the shape of a foreshortened obelisk, 4.5 metres high, with affinities to the famous Wellington Monument.  The framework of the obelisk is clad with Devon Douglas fir, with a doorway entrance allowing users to walk into its darkened interior.  At the apex, light enters horizontally through a pinhole and is projected vertically downwards, through a lens, to a concave receiving table at the base.  Viewers inside are presented with an image of the landscape view outside, on the table below their gaze.  The apex assembly can be rotated, allowing images from 360 degrees around the obelisk to be captured.

The Camera Obscura is available for hire through the Neroche Office - ideal for shows, fetes and all special occasions!

 Download a leaflet about the Camera Obscura




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