The first major survey of one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, Janet Laurence, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) presents Janet Laurence: After Nature – featuring key works and themes from the artist’s practice including sculpture, installation, photography and video.
For over 30 years, Janet Laurence has explored the interconnection of all living things – animal, plant, mineral – through a multi-disciplinary approach. She has employed diverse materials to explore the natural world in all its beauty and complexity, and to highlight the environmental challenges it faces today. The exhibition reflects on the key themes in Laurence’s work: the fragility of the natural world, its plight and potential restoration.
Curated by MCA’s Chief Curator, Rachel Kent, the exhibition includes a number of seminal works from the artist’s career, with loans from public institutions around Australia and the MCA Collection work Cellular Gardens (Where Breathing Begins).
The works on display range from her alchemical works of the early 1990s that use metal plates, minerals, organic substances and lightboxes, through to her installations of the 2000s and beyond, which incorporate plant and animal specimens within transparent vitrines and ‘wunderkammer’ environments.
Central to the exhibition is a major new commission for the MCA, entitled Theatre of Trees, which brings together the last decade of Laurence’s research into plants, their medicinal and healing powers, and trees. Set in MCA’s Level 1 North Gallery, this installation comprises four parts: Forest (Theatre of Trees), Knowledge (Tree of Life), Wonder (Herbarium) and Desire (Elixir Lab).
“Janet Laurence: AfterNature is a captivating and imaginative response to the critical issues regarding the environment through the lens of one of Australia’s most brilliant artistic minds,” said MCA Director, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE. “Janet’s work addresses serious environmental issues facing Australia from the coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef to the deforestation in Tasmania.”
“We hope that the exhibition will provoke new ways of thinking and responding to the effects of climate change, and the impact that humankind has made on the natural world.”
Janet Laurence has exhibited widely both in Australia and internationally. She has been a recipient of Rockefeller, Churchill and Australia Council Fellowships, and was awarded with an Alumni Award for Arts, University of New South Wales.
In 2015, Laurence was one of the 30 artists who exhibited in Artists 4 Paris Climate Exhibition, exhibiting Deep Breathing: Resuscitation for the Reef – which is currently on display at the MCA – at the Muséum National D’Historie Naturelle, in Paris, France.
This exhibition has evolved from two decades of collaboration between Janet Laurence and MCA Chief Curator Rachel Kent, who curated Laurence’s exhibition Muses at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne in 2000.
Janet Laurence: After Nature
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, 140 George Street, The Rocks (Sydney)
Exhibition continues to 10 June 2019
For more information, visit: www.mca.com.au for details.
Image: Janet Laurence preparing a new work, 2018 – photo by Jacquie Manning