Johnson, a floral designer as well as an artist, has spoken of once attempting to prise open a flower before it is ready, in a bid to understand its eventual state. This eagerness was unrewarding for the artist and catastrophic for the flower. An unopened bloom, like a completed artwork, is a container for the hours that have gone into its creation. Only by patiently waiting, allowing it time to unfurl will the viewer be ultimately rewarded with its beauty.1
For our inaugural Library Arrangement, Leahlani Johnson has created an installation that is a whimsical play and meditation on space and time, using still life. The material qualities of books, their forms, shapes, colours and titles have been selected and rearranged as props alongside seasonal plants, ceramic sculptures and fragments to create a changing everyday domestic composition as the floral arrangements transition into dry forms.
Hanging in the space, are two works made from the petals of paper daisies arranged into rows, “living clocks”. The layering of the petals revealing rows of varying colours and textures, and time as a gesture, each row marking the hour it took to assemble and revealing the seasonal flowers available, in the specific location each work was made. These pieces, operate as “a macrocosmic reminder of the microcosmic patterns embedded into the DNA of the natural world, and form sedimentation-like layers that recall the time Johnson and, occasionally by her invitation, members of the community have taken to create them”.2
Chloé Wolifson, “Like watching paint dry/Like watching grass grow/In the blink of an eye” in Leahlani Johnson: However late it may seem (Katoomba: Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, 2017).
Leahlani Johnson (b. 1978, Sydney, Australia) is a Sydney based artist whose current practice explores the paradoxical nature of time. Working across the disciplines of ceramics, painting, installation, floristry, performance and the moving image. Leahlani’s work employs disparate materials to reveal opposing durational qualities of stillness, temporality and flux.
Divergent concepts of time are further examined through the process of making the work and in the final form an exhibition may take, with labor intensive and site-specific interventions lasting only briefly and exhibition lengths becoming extended or condensed in size.
Leahlani Johnson thanks the volunteers who assisted with the creation of the petal work, including Jill Brown, Yvonne Corrigan, Rae Druitt, Tamara Galhuber, Llyndell Heuston, Judith Johnson, Megan Juresa, Elizabeth McCrystal, Merial Morgan, Maxine Puttick, Helena Travers, Stephen Travers, Antoinette Rakvin, Christine Rakvin, Deborah Renard, Enid Shafer, Emma Wise, and The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan for their donation of several paper daisy flowers used in the making of the work.