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Janet Laurence The memory of nature 2010-12

Janet Laurence

Australia b1949
Art, science, imagination and memory meet in Laurence’s work. Her practice has included installation, painting, photography and sculpture as well as ‘interventions’ into museum spaces, and she is well known for her public commissions and architectural collaborations. Many works are produced in response to specific sites or environments, and she often incorporates plants, animals and mineral materials. Her work has been described as echoing architecture while retaining a sense of the instability and transience found in nature.

Laurence lives and works in Sydney, and was a trustee of the Gallery from 1996 to 2005.

The memory of nature 2010-12

Natural history museums have always used dead specimens to explain the living. In this work, the dried plants, stuffed birds, burnt bones and minerals act not only as a memorial to lost nature but also a warning regarding the fragility of our environment. While the scientific instruments recall botanical science, the see-through structures play on the idea of a glasshouse as well as museum display cases.

Like the influential German artist Joseph Beuys, Laurence is passionately concerned with the environment and with the nature of being in the world. Like him, and museum curators everywhere, she is a collector – of natural objects and what she likes to call ‘substances’. With these, she creates ‘spaces of perception’, reminding us that all living things are interconnected.

  • View The memory of nature in the collection