Janet Laurence, ‘Glass Garden’, 2016, Permanent public artwork installed at Novartis Pharmaceuticals headquarters, Bent and Curved Glass, photographed by Benjamin Huey
Located at the new Novartis Pharmaceuticals headquarters in Sydney’s Macquarie Park (designed by HDR Rice Daubney), Medicinal Maze Inveiling Glass is described by its artist, Janet Laurence, as a “glass garden.” The site-specific body of work exists in a spectrum between art, science, imagination and memory. Conscious of history, ecology, the nature of perception and the alchemical qualities of materials, Laurence’s work often results in a kind of organic, transient architecture that reveals our relationship to nature.
Medicinal Maze’s glass garden is defined by a formal grid of glass panels, standing above head height and almost arm-span wide. Floating, green-glazed and white images derived from historic drawings of the botanical and horticultural world are presented like specimens suspended in the glass, giving the impression of squished vitrines or enlarged microscope slides.
The panels themselves act as both veils and screens, presenting and preserving memories. Laurence describes applying the images to the glass as a process of spilling and pouring, mimicking the gesture of sowing seeds. Their presence and appearance are intended to suggest the properties available for extraction – essential oils and liquids. The screens perform the roles of texts and ghosts, allowing a history to be read and condensing the remnants of a practice, the human effort sustained in the study of medicinal plants, into a physical, visual element of embodied memory. The selected images mirror and recall the botanical history of collection and recording, drawing and examining. Read More.
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