Rosemary Laing

Rosemary Laing, The Flowering of the Strange OrchidFeaturing the works of one of Australia’s most significant and internationally-renowned photo-based artists, Rosemary Laing, the themes of colonisation, political borders and boundaries, and the interface of the built and natural environment will be explored in a new exhibition at the TarraWarra Museum of Art until February 2018.

Born in Brisbane and based in Sydney, Laing has worked with the photographic medium since the mid-1980s. Her projects have engaged with culturally and historically resonant sites in the Australian landscape, as well as choreographed performances.

Focusing on the theme of land and landscape in Laing’s oeuvre, the exhibition includes 28 large scale works selected from 10 series over a thirty-year period.

TarraWarra director, Victoria Lynn, curator of the exhibition, says Laing’s work is highly representative of the Museum’s central interest in the exchange between art, place and ideas. “This exhibition reveals Laing’s compositional and technical ingenuity,” she says.

“It shows that Laing can create images of dazzling luminosity as well as solemnly subdued light. Flickers of bright red catch our eye, while passages of verdant greens create an all-over intensity. Her images take us to open and infinite plains as well as the depths of entangled forest trails.”

Laing builds structures and installations in coastal, farming, forest and desert landscapes from which she then creates photographic images. Whether it is papering the floor of a forest in the 2013 series The Paper, or creating a river of clothes displacing the water of a flowing creek in the new series Buddens 2017, her images reflect upon the historical and contemporary stories of human engagement with our continent.

More specifically, she draws on colonisation and the impact of waves of asylum seekers, suggesting that the landscape is forever transformed both physically and metaphorically. The exhibition also includes works depicting the aftermath of fire, and the ways it too transforms what we thought we knew of the landscape.

“The arrival of people, throughout history, shifts what happens in land, challenging those who have left their elsewhere, and disrupting the continuum of their destination-place,” said Laing. “A disruption causes a reconfiguration. It elaborates both the beforehand and the afterward.”

“The works are somewhere between – a narrative for the movement of people, the condition of landforms with a changing peopled condition, expectations of home and haven, flow and flooding, and the effect and affect of these passages.”

The exhibition, which is the first large-scale showing of Laing’s work in Victoria, will be accompanied by an exhibition of works by Fred Williams focusing on a single year of the artist’s oeuvre, Fred Williams – 1974.  Curated by Anthony Fitzpatrick, the Williams exhibition reveals the ways in which colour and human intervention in the landscape became a focus for the artist.

Rosemary Laing has exhibited in Australia and abroad since the late 1980s. She has participated in various international biennials, including the Biennale of Sydney (2008), Venice Biennale (2007), Busan Biennale (2004), and Istanbul Biennial (1995).

Her work is present in museums Australia-wide and international museums including: the Museo Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, USA; 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan; Kunstmuseum Luzern, Lucerne, Switzerland; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut, USA.

Laing has presented solo exhibitions at several museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Kunsthallen Brandts Klædefabrik, Odense; Domus Artium 2002, Salamanca; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville; and National Museum of Art, Osaka. A monograph, written by Abigail Solomon-Godeau has been published by Prestel, New York (2012).

Rosemary Laing
TarraWarra Museum of Art, 311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Healesville
Exhibition continues to 11 February 2018
Admission fees apply

For more information, visit: www.twma.com.au for details.

Image: Rosemary Laing, The Flowering of the Strange Orchid 2017, from the series Buddens, archival pigment print, 100 x 200 cm. Ten Cubed Collection, Melbourne © Rosemary Laing, Courtesy Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne

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