Text by Janet Laurence with Alanna Irwin
These images are selected from three exhibitions, revealing a way for art to speak through research and an aesthetics of care. I’m making propositions through these artworks by creating spaces of perception that can bring us into contact with the “life-world”. To recognise this interdependence is the ecological undercurrent within my practice.
Waiting - A Medicinal Garden for Ailing Plants, Biennale of Sydney (2010)
Waiting was an accumulation of plants, both living and ailing, that I placed within ‘wards’ or vitrines to form a plant hospital. This intricate mesh structure was built for the Biennale of Sydney in 2010, echoing both a botanical glasshouse and a museological cabinet. Filled with plants that were interconnected by scientific glass vessels and silicon tubing, Waiting created a space of revival and resuscitation.
This installation implicates visitors through a vision of empathy and mutual care, rather than placing them within a traditional viewer-exhibit state of marvelling at nature as a separate life force. We are reminded of what is in peril by continuing to seek dominion over nature. Instead, we are placed within an immersive aesthetic of cure, where the loss of biodiversity and environmental protections is infused with the character of hope. Based on botanical pathology, the hospital space amplifies invisible processes and the psychological state of plants. I imply that a kind of restorative coexistence can take place if there is a transformation within us to see the fragility of our planet and act with care. This hospital is a metaphor for the larger world; art acts as an instruction for healing the world.
Janet Laurence, Waiting – A Medicinal Garden for Ailing Plants, 2010, detail, Biennale of Sydney. Image courtesy the artist and Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney. Photograph by Jamie North.
Janet Laurence, Waiting –- A Medicinal Garden for Ailing Plants, 2010, installation view, Biennale of Sydney. Image courtesy the artist and Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney. Photograph by Jamie North.