Art Gallery of Ballarat

30.09.17 to 28.01.18


Image: Lauren Black, The way of heaven and earth.


The Latin term Memento Mori means ‘remember you will die’.

While artist Lauren Black is well-known for her detailed botanical work, in this exhibition she departs from her usual themes to examine the body, juxtaposing detailed anatomical drawings of human diseases with artworks inspired by traditional Chinese medicine.

The exhibition sensitively brings together two very different ways of observing the body and approaching human health, allowing for reflection on the fragility of life and the inevitability of death.

Inspired by the Latin phrase mortui vivos docent (the dead teach the living), Lauren has worked closely with diseased human remains from the R. A. Rodda Museum of Pathology at the University of Tasmania. Her works from this collection reveal the complexities of the internal body and are a direct response to the specimens held in the museum. They invite us to look thoughtfully at rarely seen aspects of the body and disease.

In 2014 she was awarded an arts residency to Penang, Malaysia, which allowed her to develop a body of work around traditional Chinese medicine. This work offers up an alternative view of human health, and has used Chinese herbal medicine in the making process. Here the artist turns our attention to an ancient system that emphasises keeping the body balanced and well. Cultural practice, memory, evocative objects, and writing all come into play with this work.

Black has worked as both artist and curator of this exhibition. In doing so she brings to the gallery a selection of rarely seen medical objects and anatomical models from Victorian and Tasmanian collections. Their inclusion provides an insight into early medical practice in Australia.


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