Review: ‘Rosemary Laing: leak’ at Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 26th February – 19th March 2011


Rosemary Laing. 'Jim' 2010


Rosemary Laing (Australian, b. 1959)
C Type photograph
Large image size 110 x 238cm
Framed size 127 x 255cm
Edition of 8



You have just got to love these!

A wonderful suite of five panoramic photographs, framed in white, inhabit the beautiful space of Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne. The photographs, different angles of the same bleached bone inverted skeleton of a house that was constructed by five builders in the Australian landscape around Cooma, New South Wales (no Photoshop tricks here!) have a subdued colour palette of misty greys and greens – all except one that has a vibrant blue sky with clouds, a man with his sheep dogs and a flock of sheep. Two of the photographs are framed upside down, one photograph a closer study from the same angle.

The house on the hill is surrounded by wondrous light gently highlighting the wooden bones of the building embedded into the landscape in a context that is soon to become another suburban housing estate. The skeleton rises up (and falls into the sky) like a foundering ship amongst mysterious gum trees, surrounded by broken stumps and littered branches. The best photograph (top, below) has the effect of the bones being lit up like a giant puzzle.

Examining ‘the encroachment of suburban development and the socio-economic and environmental pressures on the Australian landscape’ these photographs, named after the characters from Patrick White’s novel The Twyborn Affair, are ecologically aware and politically astute, as well as being fine photographs. The title of the exhibition, leak, perfectly sums up the osmotic nature of the encroachment of human habitation upon the ‘natural’ environment, which is already a mediated landscape due to European farming techniques and clearance of the landscape. But this is not a one way discourse; what do we call the ‘new’ Australian bush? What if the humpy invaded suburbia and pushed back the tide?

I would love to see different types of houses in different contexts. I want to see more these are so good!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Many thankx to Jan Minchin (Director) and Tolarno Galleries for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. Both images courtesy of the artist and Tolarno Galleries © Rosemary Laing.



Rosemary Laing. 'Prowse' 2010


Rosemary Laing (Australian, b. 1959)
C Type photograph
Large image size 110 x 247cm
Framed size 127 x 264cm
Edition of 8



Tolarno Galleries
Level 4
104 Exhibition Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: 61 3 9654 6000

Opening hours:
Tue – Fri 10am – 5pm
Sat 1pm – 4pm

Tolarno Galleries website


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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