The alchemical life


I am thinking about the dreams of plants in order to enter into an intimate relationship with them and create a possibility for them to express their fears, delights and needs. Dreams are a series of thoughts, images and sensations occurring during the sleep of plants. My talk will involve presenting my collected images and artworks that reference an alchemical life of plants. This 'alchemical life' embodies the possibility of transformation and a fabricated realm that is based in research as well as imaginings on the lives of plants. This could also be the dreams of plants that have died, and the stories and science behind our understanding of them. I am imagining that they must dream of their attractions to certain sounds and sensations that are offered by other plants, insects, birds and animals including humans. While it's broadly acknowledged that plants sleep and wake according to temperature, moisture and light cycles, my work cultivates a vision beyond this. My thoughts spring to Barcelona's Liceu Opera, which opened for its first post-pandemic concert to an audience of plants, who moved and trembled with the music. Like my work, this is not simply humans projecting anthropomorphic qualities onto plants, but a testament to the idea that plants actually live, breathe and dream.


Janet Laurence is a leading Sydney-based artist who exhibits nationally and internationally. Her practice examines our physical, cultural and conflicting relationship to the natural world. She creates immersive environments that navigate the interconnections between organic elements and systems of nature.

Within the recognised threat to so much of the life world, Janet explores what it might mean to heal the natural environment, fusing this with a sense of communal loss and search for connection with powerful life-forces. Her work is included in museum, university, corporate and private collections as well as within architectural and landscaped public places.

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