Rosemary Laing

flight research #1, 1998
Type C photograph
118.0 x 262.0 cm
Signed, dated and inscribed with title and edition on reverse


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Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne
Private collection, Sydney

Another work from this edition was included in the 'The Unquiet Landscapes of Rosemary Laing', MCA, Sydney, 23 March - 5 June 2005 and is illustrated in full colour in the accompanying catalogue.

The first in Rosemary Laing's highly acclaimed series 'flight research' from 1998, sees a woman hanging precariously from a twisting ladder, suspended in mid air above a lush canopy of trees. The angle of the photograph places the viewer in the position of the woman's gaze, as she looks upward towards an unknown future.

'flight research #1' is part of the series of nine photographs, in which Laing investigates the potential for human flight, suspension and levitation, juxtaposing the female body with the Australian bush. The work is reflective of the somewhat uncomfortable relationship that we have with the landscape, which is considered both inviting and calming on the one hand and perilously dangerous on the other.

This work is No 3 from an edition of 3 (Australian edition, there is also an edition of 3 which is international)

  • flight research #1

Image courtesy of the artist

View artist profile

Rosemary Laing is a photo-based artist with a painter’s eye. Her highly detailed, intentional compositions meditate upon humankind’s complicated relationship to the natural environment. The resulting images combine a sublime appreciation of the distinct Australian landscape with highly choreographed human interventions that she integrates within nature in what amounts, in essence, to a transient form of land art.

Born in 1959 in Brisbane, Laing has been working and exhibiting since the 1980s. She trained as a painter in the late-1970s before turning to photography, which was at first just a form of reference material. Laing rose to prominence with her flight research (1999) and Bulletproof glass (2002) series of floating brides, images that defy reason in their composition and surreal quality, especially since they were shot without the assistance of digital composition.

In 2017-18, Laing was the subject of a major survey of her work from the last three decades at the TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville, Victoria. In 2015, two of her photographic series – greenwork (1995) and brownwork (1996-97) – were shown in full in Rosemary Laing: transportation, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. An earlier major survey, The Unquiet Landscapes of Rosemary Laing, was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, in 2005, touring in 2006 to Kunsthallen Brandts Klaedefabrik, Odense, Denmark. She has participated in multiple biennials, including the Biennale of Sydney (2008); the Venice Biennale (2007); the Busan Biennale (2004); and the Istanbul Biennale (1995).

In 2019, Laing received the Overseas Photographer Award at the 35th Higashikawa Awards, Hokkaido, Japan, in career recognition of photographic achievements such as weather (2006); leak (2010) and Buddens (2017). A monograph on Laing’s work was published by Prestel, New York, in 2012, written by Abigail Solomon-Godeau.