Janet Laurence’s practice is embedded in an aesthetics of care and is keenly aware of our interconnection with the elemental aspects of nature. Her works offer a slow and immersive engagement with natural ecologies through materials as diverse as glass, living plant matter, video, pigments, museum archives, and taxidermy specimens. Laurence’s work is dependent upon decades of research, which helps her construct poetic encounters with biophilia that reflect on science, wonder, and environmental loss. Her practice often incorporates organic qualities of transience, vividly communicating the importance and urgency of caring for threatened environments. Her work is included in numerous institutions, museums, universities and corporate collections as well as within architectural and landscaped public places, worldwide.
Laurence lives and works in Sydney, and was the Australian representative at United Nation’s Artists 4 Paris Climate 2015, in which Laurence brought international attention to the fragility of Australia’s World Heritage Great Barrier Reef through her multi-media work ‘Deep Breathing (Resuscitation for the Reef)’. Through her multi-layered vitrine, which encloses photo and video works, sculptural objects, and natural materials, Laurence comments on the deteriorative effects of climate change on the natural planet and of aquatic life in particular. As Laurence explains, the aim of this work is ‘to create the imaginative possibility for healing our marine world’.
Laurence exhibits both locally and internationally and has been represented in major curated and survey exhibitions including: Know My Name, National Gallery of Australia (2020); Janet Laurence: After Nature, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2019); Deep Breathing: Resuscitation for the Reef, Muséum National D’Histories Naturelle, Paris, France (2015); After Eden, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney (2012); Negotiating This World, National Gallery of Victoria (2012); 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010); In the Balance; Art for a Changing World, MCA, Sydney (2010); Clemenger Contemporary Art Award, NGV Melbourne (2009); Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art (2008), Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, Japan (2003); 9th Biennale of Sydney (1992); Australian Perspecta (1985, 1991, 1997).
Her major commissioned works include: The Australian War Memorial (in collaboration with TZG Architects), Hyde Park, London; Tarkine for a World in Need of Wilderness, Macquarie Bank London; In the Shadow, Sydney 2000 Olympic Park; Waterveil, CH2 Building for Melbourne City Council; Elixir, Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, Japan; Memory of Lived Spaces, T3 Terminal Changi Singapore. Key collections include: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Art Gallery of New South Wales; National Gallery of Victoria; Queensland Art Gallery; Art Gallery of South Australia; Artbank Australia; Macquarie Bank Collection; Kunstwerk Summlung Kleinm, Germany; as well as numerous university, corporate and private collections nationally and internationally. In 2012 the AGNSW acquired a major installation work The Memory of Nature, as part of the permanent collection.
A recipient of both a Rockefeller and Churchill Fellowship, the Alumni Award for the Arts, UNSW, and the John Clover Art Prize, Laurence was a Trustee of the Art Gallery of NSW, on the VAB Board of the Australia Council, and is currently Visiting Fellow at COFA NSW University.
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