Installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney showcases pieces from our collection.
The opening of the installation, After Nature, created by artist Janet Laurence provides a different perspective on our museum specimens as creatures of art as well as science, and emphasises their fragility.
I was privileged not only to be one of the collections staff at the Australian Museum (together with Amanda Hay, Steve Keable and Leah Tsang) to provide specimens for her installation, but to attend its opening at the MCA in February 2019.
It was a very well attended affair with members of Sydney’s art elite rubbing shoulders with scientists and environmental activists. Easily finding common ground, the aim of both collectives is to present the delicacy of nature to a wider audience in a bid for better care and understanding.
As custodians of many of the world’s greatest treasures, such as the iconic Great Barrier Reef, and our unique bird fauna, it is astonishing that we continue to destroy the very fabric of the environment upon which ecosystems depend. Coral bleaching, the result of human-induced temperature increases and habitat modification is highlighted in Janet’s installation with a marine theme of white and glass: white, the bleaching, and glass and laboratory tubing suggesting hospital-like salvation.
So simple and obvious, the reasons for destruction are all showcased in her work: forest logging, climate anomalies and destruction. The result: After Nature, a profoundly moving collection of works highlighting the destruction of nature exemplified by colourless coral, dead birds and fallen trees, bandaged in hopeful recovery.
Janet’s thoughtful insights illustrate not only her profound concern about the environment but also a positive and hopeful note that with enough care, we might just be able to tack in a different direction
Dr Mandy Reid, Collection Manager, Malacology.