Janet Laurence is a contemporary Australian artist, who is well known for her passionate connection with the environment. Laurence’s fascination in the nexus between science and art, has profoundly displayed human’s relationship towards nature. Janet Laurence explores the limits of art by converging extreme practices such as science, memory, imagination and insanity. She displays this by her confronting organic use of materials and subject matter. Laurence carefully considers her use of metaphors in her artwork.
Each piece of artwork contains a dark meaning or message towards her audience. Laurence displays powerful political messages through her passionate concerns with the environment. Janet Laurence’s subject matter and process has changed vastly over the years, Janet changes her artwork’s themes according to her personal concerns and changes in the environment. Her aims as an artist are to up rise empathy and compassion from her audience. Janet Laurence uses the Australian landscape as a metaphor, as a warning regarding the fragility of our environment.
Her work is symbolic of the fragility of nature, Janet Lawrence demonstrates this in a metaphorical way through her concern with the landscape and natural world. By getting glimpses of nature through the use of acrylic or glass could be compared to a looking glass which could be understood as seeing into a secret place. Janet Lawrence is also interested in the connection between space and the environment, this concept is a metaphorical example used within her practice as a comparison to scientific practices.
Janet uses an assortment of practices including; installation, photography, painting and sculpting. She is commonly known for her public commissions and architectural collaborations. Laurence’s artworks are created in response to specific sites or environments that have powerful meanings behind them. Laurence creates artworks in response to a specific life form or environment. She achieves this by using a diverse selection of materials such as plants, mineral materials and animals. Another example of her own individual use of unconventional materials comprise of glass, lead, ash and fur.
Janet incorporates dead specimens such as owls and eggs to explain the living and a way of presenting an almost museum approach. Each artwork is a reminder that all living life forms are interconnected and have a relationship with each other. Laurence has displayed this through her choice of diverse materials, colours and technique. Janet Laurence’s concern about Australia’s environmental health is extremely evident in her artwork. One of my favorite artworks is “Plants eye view”. This artwork recently won the $40,000 Glover Prize for landscapes.
This award is very significant in Australian art history as Janet Laurence is the first female artists to be awarded the prize. The artwork is a multi-dimensional mirror and acrylic display. A judge from the Glover prize council quotes “The work is very beautiful from the point of view of colour. ” The artwork consists of numerous shades of green and black which emphasizes both nature as well as a more sinister tone. The vast majority of colour shades provide the artwork with a spooky and mysterious monotone. One of my favorite aspects of “Plants eye view” is the very vivid and arresting effect it has on the audience.
The artwork almost makes you believe that you are hallucinating, some audiences commented that it makes you feel like you are experiencing drugs. This piece of art could be symbolic of death or dying, which is another example of Laurence’s use of metaphor in her work. The artwork is a portrayal of the Tarkine forest in North West Tasmania. Janet Laurence has displayed the large endangered forest on a micro scale to suggest that it is a small and insignificant problem compared to the millions of endangered forestry in the world.
She quotes “The Tarkine Forest is very close to my heart”. Janet said that she would often bushwalk through the Tarkine forest, as it contained a fragile but aggressive attitude which somehow made her feel at home. Laurence’s main aim was to accurately display her passion for the environment, and to let her audience experience the same incredible feeling of home as she did. She would often refer to the Tarkine Forest as a secret place that anybody could call home. The second artwork that I have chosen to annotate is “Heart shock”.
This particular piece of artwork is a large dead tree that is artfully suspended upside down. Laurence has cleverly attached elongated transparent silican tubing to each branch, projecting a sinful shadow across the walls. Each tube is consumed with a mysterious fluid, acting like sap dripping from the decaying plant. This work is an excellent example of the way that the scientific use of the acrylic tubes could be compared to that in a laboratory for research purposes, and is symbolic of bringing life back to a dying or an ill object.
The comparison to a scientific experiment that is connected to a laboratory is symbolic of Laurence’s interest in both science and its relationship to art which could be seen as another example of a metaphor in her work. “Heart shock” is a deeply artistic piece of work which contains a sad message. Laurence is attempting to show her audience the devastation of endangered plants through her artwork. Janet Laurence’s art work is an immersive experience for its viewers. She is able to draw people into the inspiring meaning behind each piece.
Laurence’s work has been described as “echoing architecture while retaining a sense of the instability and transience found in nature”. Laurence has commonly worked with people’s reactions towards her artwork, she loves to view what people think, and create her next piece of work on her audience’s interaction with “nature”. An art reporter for “Featured gallery” quotes; “Through its reflective surfaces, the work engages the viewer directly as though we enter right into the landscape and become one with the nature. I personally love this quote because it proves that Janet Laurence has successfully delivered her message to her audience. In conclusion, Janet Laurence is an incredible artist who has an inspirational message to share with the world. She has a profound connection with nature, which creates a beautiful memorial to endangered environments. Laurence’s intelligent metaphorical connection between science and art has inspired people to take care of their environment. By Nancy Whiston
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