Janet Laurence  2014 Residue


If we could hear … the call of those who are slipping out of life forever. There we might encounter a narrative emerging from extinctions, a level of blood that connects us …[i]

This show brings together works that address the plight of the natural world in the age of the anthropocene with its overwhelming rate of extinction. Here in Australia we are directly experiencing dramatic days of climate change.

A week ago, trees fell in Adelaide. Here lies one rescued, – perhaps in the hope of healing, perhaps as a symbol.  Layered with scientific glass, the tree offers alchemical transformation or cures, as metaphors of survival for us all. This work plays between the scientific, the experiential and the experimental, combining many materials and matter.

The work, Blood and Chlorophyll, addresses our shared vascular system with plants; our blood, their chlorophyll, intertwined.  We are utterly dependent on plants for our survival. This work creates a continuity with Heartshock for the Adelaide Biennial 2009 – a tree on life support – and the Sydney Biennial 2010 – a medicinal garden for ailing plants. All deal with the fragility of our nature here and our need to care and heal.

Other works in the show include some developed from time in the Kimberleys and the extraordinary plants there, and from After Eden in the Sherman Foundation, a show that explored the plight of animals with loss of habitat.

For many years my work has explored the poetics of space and materiality through the creation of site-specific works that deal with our experiential and cultural relationship with the fragility of the natural world; visiting threatened sites, observing widespread and ongoing ecological destruction, seeing a blindness leading to the loss of the wild.

The great majority of Australian plants and animals are found nowhere else on earth. They are precious repositories of unique genes and evolutionary strategies living in unique ecosystems, and, as Tim Flannery has said, they provide Australians with the best means of engaging nature and listening to our land. We profess to love our wildlife, political and economic compromise allow it to be traded off.


[i] Deborah Bird Rose, Wild Dog Dreaming: Love and Extinction, University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, Virginia, US, p.146.