Rosemary Laing

Jim from 'leak' series, 2010
C Type photograph
110 x 238 cm (image); 127 x 255 cm (frame)
from an edition of 8

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Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne
Acquired from the above on 9 August 2011

Other examples of this edition have been regularly exhibited

R. Butler & K. Broadfoot, Rosemary Laing's leak, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne,  2011
R. Nelson, 'World Turned Upside Down', The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney,  2 March 2011, illus.
A. Solomon-Godeau, Rosemary Laing, Piper Press, Sydney, 2012, illus. pp. 164-5
V. Lynn &  J. Annear, Rosemary Laing, Tarrawarra Museum of Art, Victoria, 2017, illus. p. 50-51

Another from the edition of jim is in the collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

"In the project that became leak, Laing signalled the correspondence between the 'local' and 'global' as they intersect within a specific geographical locale. "Leakage between things" she wrote, "between past, present and future...leakage between the past of the idyllic pastoral landscape and very broadly put, suburban to global leakage."  

The site she chose for the project was the Monaro district of New South Wales, a high plateau close to the area demarked by the Great Dividing Range.  Encompassing a swathe of territory of approximately 20,578 square kilometres, boarded on the west by the Snowy Mountains, it had by the mid-nineteenth century become a region of relatively small-scale farming and cattle and sheep raising.  Its settlers had begun their westward migrations from coastal whaling stations and fishing communities such as Eden, the town from which Laing made her initial forays into the region (Eden figures in weather #1 and weather #2)." (A. Solomon-Godeau, op.cit. p. 32)

In Australian art history the Monaro landscape has also been the subject of paintings by George Lambert, Hilda Rix Nicholas and more recently artworks by Rosalie Gascoigne and Imants Tillers. Australian literature classics My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin, The Twyborn Affair by Patrick White (Laing draws the characters from this novel as the titles for this series) and Banjo Patterson's poem The Man From Snowy River were all set in this landscape.

After choosing the site for this series, "Laing had formulated the 'subject' that would be constructed for the photographs; the wooden skeleton of a standard suburban house, of conventional single-family design, whose measurements would be slightly enlarged over its ordinary dimensions."

As art critic Robert Nelson writes of this series 
"In a rough and hilly pastoral setting, a frame for a suburban dwelling has landed upside down upon the landscape, as if having plummeted from space. The mood is eerily tranquil, as if nothing else can happen. Now that the upside-down house is there, the empty visitation has come to rest on the hill as a pure and mysterious concept....

Imagining the globe as an object that puts north at the top, Europeans could see the continent down under as somehow upside down. Language suggests that the Europeans imagined the antipodes as a place where people have the earth on their heads, almost bearing the globe like the mythical giant Atlas.

It's a great irony that we Australians who apparently have the whole world above us cannot bear the thought of anyone living on top of us. To suburban Australians, it's a most offensive suggestion if you propose that anyone else might live nearby, but especially above. Australians, they believe, are unique in the world, because they need empty land to the side, front and back; and the thought that someone else might live above or below inspires horror and anger throughout the most influential electorates.

When Laing transposes her house from Platonic outer space to sit in the countryside that is doomed to become suburban sprawl, she creates a powerful symbol of environmental abuse." (R. Nelson, op. cit., 2011)

  • Jim from 'leak' series

Image courtesy of the artist and Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne

View artist profile

Rosemary Laing is a photo-based artist with a painter’s eye. Her highly detailed, intentional compositions meditate upon humankind’s complicated relationship to the natural environment. The resulting images combine a sublime appreciation of the distinct Australian landscape with highly choreographed human interventions that she integrates within nature in what amounts, in essence, to a transient form of land art.

Born in 1959 in Brisbane, Laing has been working and exhibiting since the 1980s. She trained as a painter in the late-1970s before turning to photography, which was at first just a form of reference material. Laing rose to prominence with her flight research (1999) and Bulletproof glass (2002) series of floating brides, images that defy reason in their composition and surreal quality, especially since they were shot without the assistance of digital composition.

In 2017-18, Laing was the subject of a major survey of her work from the last three decades at the TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville, Victoria. In 2015, two of her photographic series – greenwork (1995) and brownwork (1996-97) – were shown in full in Rosemary Laing: transportation, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. An earlier major survey, The Unquiet Landscapes of Rosemary Laing, was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, in 2005, touring in 2006 to Kunsthallen Brandts Klaedefabrik, Odense, Denmark. She has participated in multiple biennials, including the Biennale of Sydney (2008); the Venice Biennale (2007); the Busan Biennale (2004); and the Istanbul Biennale (1995).

In 2019, Laing received the Overseas Photographer Award at the 35th Higashikawa Awards, Hokkaido, Japan, in career recognition of photographic achievements such as weather (2006); leak (2010) and Buddens (2017). A monograph on Laing’s work was published by Prestel, New York, in 2012, written by Abigail Solomon-Godeau.