Rosemary Laing

airport #2, 1997
C Type photograph
72 x 131 cm (frame)

View extended notes

Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Another work from the edition was exhibited in 
unquiet landscapes of Rosemary Laing, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 23 March - 5 June 2003

V. Webb, unquiet landscapes of Rosemary Laing, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, exh. cat., illus. pp. 26-27
A. Solomon-Godeau, Rosemary Laing, Piper Press, Sydney, 2012, illus. p. 78

'Shot largely at Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport, the only discernible features of place are the distant aircraft, sprawling buildings and marks left on the tarmac by the passage of the machinery of mass transportation.

The airport is a place of flux, of transition and movement, arrival and departure. Passengers are reduced to logistical data to be managed within the constraints of time and economics as well as procedures designed to ensure safety and efficiency. Figures appear dwarfed by the scale of the technology and the uniformity of an environment devoid of natural or cultural identity....

In both the brownwork and airport series figures re-enact the process and physics of movement on a human scale and level of intimacy, setting up a shock of recognition yet simultaneously reinforcing the difference between human bodily action and the infrastructure of mass transportation.' (Vivienne Webb, 'Exploring Place' in the unquiet landscapes of Rosemary Laing, MCA, Sydney, 2005, p. 8 & 9)

  • airport #2

Image courtesy of the Estate of the artist and Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne

View artist profile

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

Born in 1959 in Brisbane, Laing worked and exhibited from the early 1980s until her untimely death in 2024. 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. Her work has been included 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.