Janet Laurence

Wingbeat/Sodium Spill from Verdant works, 2004
Duraclear, acrylic, aluminium, oil pigment with steel brackets
100.0 x 165.0 cm


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Breenspace, Sydney
Acquired from the above on 19 April 2005

  • Wingbeat/Sodium Spill from Verdant works

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For over three decades, Janet Laurence has created artworks and installations grounded in delicate balances that hold the natural world together. Her works synthesise a scientific understanding of nature into immersive, reverential installations that record the effects of climate change, deforestation, species extinction and the degradation of the Great Barrier Reef.

Born in Sydney in 1947, Laurence studied in Italy and the United States, where she encountered Land and Earth Art, including the works of Alan Sonfist, and saw a retrospective of Joseph Bueys at the Guggenheim Museum (1979) which she has described as formative. Her work draws on literary influences like W.G. Sebald as well as unusual sources like Piet Mondrian, whose theosophical writings and geometric compositions find a place in some of Laurence's series. A pervading interest across Laurence's work has been to challenge the boundaries of the museum space and create immersive works that mirror the feeling of being in nature - in many cases literally using glass and mirrors in her installations.

In 2019, Laurence received a major survey, After Nature, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. In 2017, coinciding with the loan of works from the Rijksmuseum to the Art Gallery of New South Wales for the exhibition Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age, Laurence exhibited the installation Matter of the Masters (2017-18). Her installation Deep Breathing: Resuscitation for the Reef was exhibited at the Musée National D'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France (2015) and at the Australian Museum, Sydney (2016). She has exhibited at Biennales in Cuenca, Ecuador (2016), Sydney (2010), Adelaide (2008), and at the 11th Venice Achitecture Biennale, Venice, Italy (2008). Laurence was a trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wale from 1995-2005 and was the subject of John Beard's winning portrait in the 2007 Archibald Prize.