Janet Laurence: After Nature

In the first major survey of the Sydney artist's work, the MCA explores the link between all living creatures in an installation that's equal parts science lab and art exhibition.
Hudson Brown
March 05, 2019


Janet Laurence has been recognised globally as a leading voice on the environment but, surprisingly, she has never seen a major survey of her work take place. But that all changes now, as the Museum of Contemporary Art celebrates Laurence's 30-year career in a new exhibition.

You might remember the 'water bar' that popped up in Paddington a few years back. That was Lawrence. While the bar doesn't make a comeback, After Nature goes down a similar path. The survey features numerous of the Sydney-based artist's key works across environmentally charged sculpture, installation, photography and video, which, when taken as a whole, explores the link between all living creations from animal to plants and minerals. Perhaps now, more so than ever before, Laurence's work has taken on profound importance with its study of Australia's fragile natural world, and how we might respond to the impact of climate change.

Highlights include many of Laurence's early lightbox works combining metal plates, minerals and organic substances, while her more recent installations present new perspectives on plant and animal specimens. Meanwhile, the centrepiece of this exhibition is a newly produced commission for the MCA, Theatre of Trees, which applies the last decade of Laurence's research into plant life and its medicinal properties.

Image 1: Janet Laurence, Forest (Theatre of Trees), 2018–19. Images 2–4: Janet Laurence, Deep Breathing: Resuscitation for the Reef, 2015–16. Image 5: Janet Laurence, Cellular Gardens (Where Breathing Begins), 2005. Image 6: Janet Laurence, Heartshock (After Nature), 2008.  All images by Jacquie Manning and courtesy of the artist.


Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x