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Today we chat to local photographer (by way of Italy), Monica Buscarino. Monica uses analogue photography to explore art as an immersive and personal experience. Monica is having a solo show at Stain in Murwillumbah: “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”, which opens on March 17th. Read our conversation with Monica below:

Hi Monica, tell us a bit about yourself:
I hail from Italy, with Sicily imprinting its essence on my identity. Raised in a household adorned with my mother’s paintings, art was a constant companion. Struggling with traditional drawing, it was my father who recognised my affinity for photography. One day, while I was grappling with another drawing, he emptied a box full of photos I had taken, including some Polaroids I snapped when I was three with his camera. He said, “This is how you draw.” And suddenly, everything clicked. My artistic journey started in photography school, delving into films, history and the mysteries of the darkroom. After school, I honed my craft as a photojournalist and documentarist.

I moved to Australia in 2009 with the intention to travel around the country for a year and come back to Italy with a photographic book. Fifteen years later, I’m still here and have no book (yet). I worked as a photographer and content producer for the Journal Magazine in Sydney for nine years. I departed from the fashion path and relocated to the Northern Rivers area, where I started working as a Creative Director for Soma Byron and focusing on my own photography.



Talk to us about nature and the natural landscape being a key subject in your arts practice. 
This marks my first dive into capturing landscapes through my lens. Normally, I’m all about people and their stories. But ever since I moved to Australia, the call of the desert has been relentless. Out in the country, you suddenly realise how tiny you are in the grand scheme of nature. It’s a powerful reminder that nature cradles us, instantly making me feel at home. Everything gets crystal clear and calm settles in. I love taking my medium and large format cameras, finding a spot and just soaking it all in—waiting for that perfect light, that moment. There’s this deep connection to the history of this land. It’s like the earth itself is whispering to you.

Your upcoming show, “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” opens on March 17th, what can viewers expect from this latest body of work.
“The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” is a visual journey into the heart of my desert escapades, captured through analog photos and accompanied by typewritten thoughts. I guess it’s an invitation to immerse yourself in a timeless space. It’s a visual meditation on the enigma of time that has been a constant companion in my artistic journey. Shot mostly on medium and large format, printed on art paper and some on fabrics to evoke the element of air and movement. There will be a lot of writing collected over the years, amassed during my travels with cameras and my mom’s old Olivetti. I’m merging some of my art with botanical installations by Donna Stain—a beautiful process intertwining my narrative with hers.



Can you speak about the importance of an exhibition space? 
I’m drawn to places that exude character, that raw, imperfect charm. When I first set foot into Donna’s space in Murwillumbah, that little voice inside me whispered “This is it”. It’s more than perfect; it’s industrial, beautifully rough around the edges, with soaring ceilings that echo the expansive landscapes I’ve captured. Beyond its visual appeal, the location plays a pivotal role. Murwillumbah is a deliberate choice to step out of the polished confines of the Byron bubble.

Take us through the colour palette in your photos
Soft and warm tones, graininess is another intentional element in my work as I shoot on films. It adds a texture that resonates with the rugged beauty of the landscapes I often explore.

This next body of work also includes combination of type with your photos, is this a new creative outlet for you? How do each of these mediums complement each other? 
Photography, no doubt, has this uncanny ability to mirror reality like no other art form. Yet, my concept of reality extends beyond that —delving into emotions like fear, dreams and love, not to mention the intricate stories and experiences that lead me to a particular shot.

While the lens captures the tangible, there’s a whole realm of reality that exists beyond what meets the eye. Here’s where words step in, to tell the ghostly narratives behind a shot. Every photo is a convergence of stories, the photographer’s journey and the untold tale within the frame. It’s about bringing to light the nuances, revealing the invisible within the visible – a bridge between what’s seen and what’s felt.



Your work successfully brings the nostalgia of the analogue into a modern space, what does the future of analogue look like to you?
I don’t think I have an answer for that. I guess, for me, the future of analogue photography is a quiet rebellion. Call it nostalgia, call it stubbornness, but there’s an enduring magic in the grain and authenticity of analogue. So, you’ll find me here, collecting cameras, using each one and discovering solace in the timeless process of film.

What’s on the horizon for you in 2024?
This year, I’m on a mission to say ‘yes’ to the things that ignite that creative fire within: more photography, more time in the darkroom, more ink on the page and more soul connections. I’m calling in collaborations with different brands and industries to bring my creative vision to life. Once ‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter’ exhibition has its moment, I’ll be focusing on another photographic and writing project I already started — a more intimate exploration of life.

“The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”, Monica Buscarino opens on March 17
Stain, 15 Queen Street, Murwillumbah, from 4-8 pm and runs until March 22


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