Artist-in-Residence Janet Laurence has created a new work inspired by the Australian Museum’s coral collection and Lizard Island Research Station.
Tuesday 12 July 2016, Sydney: Celebrated Australian artist Janet Laurence – who created a dramatic representation of the plight of the Great Barrier Reef for exhibit at the Climate Change Conference in Paris – is now bringing her acclaimed work to the Australian Museum (AM) from 28 July, 2016.
The immersive and moving installation, made from glass and coral, emulates a life-saving resuscitation unit and draws attention to the impacts of global warming on one of the world’s great natural wonders.
Kim McKay AO, Director and CEO of the Australian Museum, said that Laurence’s work was inspired during a residency at the AM’s Lizard Island Research Station (LIRS) situated on the Reef.
“Janet’s work has a history of examining our relationship with the natural world, and she has used her status as the AM’s artist-in-residence to full effect with a powerful work that addresses the threat of climate change and human interference to our precious marine environment,” she said.
Titled Deep Breathing, Laurence’s work aims to encourage creative action in protecting the Reef.
“By transforming scientific research into an accessible message, I hope to communicate that art still has the power to change, and can provoke a renewed awareness about our environment during this critical time of climate change and resulting social and ecological trauma,” Laurence said.
The work represents an international collaboration between the renowned artist and researchers from the AM, Great Barrier Reef Authority, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Paris' Museum national d'Histoire naturelle and WWF.
Deep Breathing is constructed using glass test tubes, photographs, videos, sculptural objects and museum specimens – specifically, great sea turtles.
“Sea turtles are an ancient species that have survived millions of years. They are mega fauna which have been embedded in the human imagination through myths and stories since man evolved,’ Laurence said.
Featuring small corals on beds transfused with colour, along with other specimens wrapped in morgue- like wraps, the installation deals principally with the impact of coral bleaching, Crown of Thorns Starfish, acid waters and recent cyclones on the Reef.
Deep Breathing was exhibited at Paris' Museum national d'Histoire naturelle as part of the Artists for Climate Change initiative during the COP21 talks in November 2015. Laurence was one of 30 artists from 23 countries selected to exhibit her work during the Conference.
“I feel quite proud to have been invited,” she said. “It was a one-off opportunity to situate my work within a very important, political, innovative context, in the company of highly respected international artists, and an audience of political and scientific influencers.”
Other artists invited included Kadir Attia, Pedro Reyes, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Olafur Eliasson and Pavel Pepperstein among others.
Visitors to the AM can further enhance their understanding of coral by taking part in Great Barrier Reef Dive, a critically acclaimed virtual reality experience in which participants can journey to the depths of the Reef with world famous naturalist David Attenborough.
About Janet Laurence
A graduate of College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Laurence’s art practice has been at the forefront of Australian art in addressing our relationship to the natural world, with ongoing themes of fragility, loss and the potential for healing. Typically exploring man’s relationship with the natural environment, especially our role in species extinction, environmental damage and climate change, her all-encompassing environments take the audience on a journey, navigating the delicate and vulnerable relationships between humans and nature.
Despite an often grim look at the reality of environmental damage, Laurence usually weaves in a positive message of healing and the regenerative powers of the natural environment. Major exhibitions that highlight this are: After Eden (SCAF), Fugitive In Light (TWMA), Heartshock (2008 Adelaide Biennale: Handle With Care); Waiting (17th Biennale of Sydney) and the upcoming In The Flower (IGA Berlin).
About Australian Museum’s Lizard Island Reef Research Station (LIRS)
Established by the Australian Museum in 1973, the Lizard Island Research Station is a world-leading supplier of on- reef facilities for coral reef research and education. Located on the northern Great Barrier Reef (270 km north of Cairns, Queensland), it is owned by the Australian Museum and supported by the Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation. LIRS is the only GBR island research station that is managed on-site by qualified and experienced tropical marine researchers. Dr Lyle Vail and Dr Anne Hoggett have been joint directors of the Research Station since 1990.
Update: Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s biggest coral reef system and the nation’s premier ecological and tourist resource. Recognised as one of the world’s natural treasures and great marine resources, the reef was recently denied a World Heritage status listing by the United Nations. This month, the World Heritage Committee decided against declaring the Great Barrier Reef ‘in danger’. However, the committee said it would monitor the state of the reef over the next four years.