12 April - 11 May 2013
148 New Bond Street,
London, W1S 2JT
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 thirty 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 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. However, rather than looking at it, I am interested in creating a bio-centric approach. This environmental approach is one that partners with the knowledge of science to understand the fragile ecological interconnections and the processes within, and to be painfully aware of its fragility and injured state.”
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, including the Glasshouse works which, 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.
Most of the works in the show we experience through scientific glass and vials that become both houses to plants and lenses to create visibility of threatened landscapes. To convey a sense of both wonder and engagement with aspects of the natural world but at the same time, a disturbance of the human impact on our fragile planet. The Ferment implies a stirring up and a sense of environmental undoing.