Australian artist Janet Laurence is proving as popular internationally as she is in Australia. Confirmation of her position as one of Australia’s most respected artists came earlier in March when she was awarded the 2013 Glover Prize. An indication of her burgeoning international reputation, London gallery The Fine Art Society will host a major exhibition of Laurence’s work from 12 April to 11 May 2013, Laurence’s first major UK solo show.
Featuring a selection of works from recent years, “The Ferment” is the product of forty years spent examining the complex relationships between natural and man-made environments, making nature at once her subject and her object. According to The Fine Art Society, “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.”
In addition to The Fine Art Society exhibition Laurence’s work will be exhibited at Hong Kong gallery The Space in May as part of the group show “Wonderworks” and then again in September/October during which The Space will host a solo exhibition of Laurence's work.
ARTINFO Australia recently got in touch with Laurence to ask her some questions about her career and the upcoming UK solo exhibition.
For 40 years you have been examining the complex relationships between natural and man-made environments, how has your practice developed during that time?
My practice has developed from alchemical themed works that formed a language of interconnection with the organic world. Through explorations of our relationship to nature to the current work that addresses real environmental issues in the world, particularly in threatened places.
You exhibit an incredible affinity with the mediums and materials you work with, what role to the mediums and materials play in your work?
I have always used a wide range of media and created installations where possible. I use whatever materials will speak to the site, theme and feeling I want in the work.
My work has expanded into video works which I use as part of an installation. I am interested in juxtaposing the physical materiality with the digital projections by way of creating a 'slow space' in which the content can be engaged with.
How does your work translate to being experienced by an international audience?
I have always worked in an international language of art and feel very connected to other artists working in the UK and Germany in particular.
How were the works chosen for your London exhibition “The Ferment”?
I decided to select a range of works from the past few years as an introduction to my first solo show in UK. It's been a real editing process to a few works that could represent my practice and concerns.
What does the exhibition convey?
I hope the exhibition can convey a sense of both wonder and engagement with aspects of the natural world; at the same time, a disturbance of the human impact on our fragile planet.
For me, the word ferment implies a stirring up and I hope can also imply in environmental terms a sense of undoing.
How do you maintain a balance between art and activism?
I think my balance is maintained by deliberately not being didactic but at the same time expressing my concerns about environmental degradation, and using opportunities to address this.
What is the next chapter in the Janet Laurence narrative?
The next chapter will be more activist in the art while at the same time making a breathing space for the viewer, a space they can engage with and consider the message, a space where art is most powerful.
For example the recent work that won the Glover gives me a real opportunity to address further the issues of the Tarkine in Tasmania and a role amidst others with a voice.