One Australia’s leading contemporary artists Janet Laurence to have first major UK solo show – The Fine Art Society Contemporary – 12 April to 11 May 2013


The Fine Art Society Contemporary is proud to announce The Ferment, the first major UK solo show for one of Australia’s most respected living artists, Janet Laurence.

For over forty years Laurence has been examining the complex relationships between natural and man-made environments, making nature at once her subject and her object. The scope and inventiveness of her artistic enquiry is staggering and Laurence is not an artist easily categorised; her work skirts the boundaries of art, science, architecture, nature, the imagined world, history
and memory. Since the 1970s she has worked with painting, photography, sculpture, site-specific installation and architectural intervention.

Like an alchemist, Laurence blends transient and Janet Laurence, Life in the Umwelt (2012) hybrid forms that reference both scientific systems and complex natural processes. Laurence has long been drawn to the way in which we study, observe, collect and present the natural world and throughout her career she has returned to imagery derived from scientific laboratories, museums of natural history, greenhouses and botanical gardens. Removed from their clinical and academic origins, Laurence transforms
these motifs into poetic, ghostly creations that correspond neither solely to the laws of science or nature. There is a duality at the heart of her work; she enjoys juxtaposing opposites including science/nature, growth/ decay, stasis/flux, art/science and reality/memory. These are the ways in which Laurence takes the viewer to the genesis of her practice, which is to show the ‘interconnectedness of things’. In the artist’s own words:

“Growing up in a country still obsessed with landscape more for its turmoils than harmonious relationships provides the context for this exhibition. It is within the psyche of most Australians – the weight of the desert, the struggle with fires, the sudden floods, the colonial plunder that still continues, the discordancy of agriculture, the neglect of Indigenous knowledge.

However, rather than looking at it, which has been an obsession since colonisation and which still continues in art, I am interested creating a bio-centric approach rather than the ego-centric point of view of the landscape. Exploring this, which is of course a global issue, demonstrates our interconnection and relationship with the living world. This environmental approach is one that partners with the knowledge of science to understand the fragile ecological interconnections and the processes within; to be painfully aware of
its fragility and damaged state; and to bring attention to the invisible enabled by scientific imagery.”

The Ferment presents a selection of work from recent years. Laurence’s early works used an alchemical language of matter to evoke spaces and fields of memory. This basic language has never left the work but it has found new departures and expressions in the other series in the exhibition. The exhibition includes works that reference modernist architectural houses of glass to view nature through and where nature was reflected back into the architecture, such as the pavilions of Mies van der Rohe. The Glasshouse works present the grand structures now ghosted out as memory spaces for the wonderment of plants. Laurence also conjures threatened environments and habitats as works of protest and protection and explores images of regeneration and healing from the ashes of fires. Her variation of resuscitation gardens are engineered for the caring and healing of plants, creating places of nurture.

Janet Laurence’s first major solo show in the UK at The Fine Art Society Contemporary represents an important moment in an already distinguished career. This show follows on from numerous museum exhibitions in her native Australia, most recently a permanent installation set amidst the historic collections at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.


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