Inside the room Anna spent two years building and painting

"I wanted the feeling of being totally enveloped by a painting." - Anna Kristensen. Pictures: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

"I wanted the feeling of being totally enveloped by a painting." - Anna Kristensen. Pictures: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Like Alice through the looking glass, stepping through the portal of Anna Kristensen's work Indian Chamber is to step into another world: close the wooden door and be transported to Jenolan Caves' vast subterranean grotto.

Sydney artist Ms Kristensen spent two years building and painting the room, as plain outside as it is mesmerising inside.

"We would take family holidays to the caves," Ms Kristensen said of the work's inception. "I went to the caves with a guide and a photographer friend for a whole day."

Daubing oil paint directly onto curved plywood, the 11-metre round structure is dizzying in its detail - more like a photograph than a painted work.

It is almost perfectly circular, with a 3.6-metre diameter, and fits several people inside. Rotating on the spot is the way to view the work, Indian Chamber having no start or end.

"I wanted the feeling of being totally enveloped by a painting, something people are closed inside and not able to look away from," Ms Kristensen said.

Aside from the painted beauty and craftsmanship of bending solid plywood, the chamber has one more astonishing quality: an echo only heard at the room's centre, like hearing sound underwater or muffled through a wall.

"It wasn't intentional, more a happy accident," Ms Kristensen said. "It is is a nice connection to an actual cave though."

Indian Chamber opens on Friday at Wollongong Art Gallery and is on show until November 2.

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