(b. 1960. Sydney, NSW, Australia)
Having first exhibited with the Gallery in 2010, Janet Tavener has since contributed numerous sculptural and photographic pieces to Brenda May Gallery/MAY SPACE exhibitions and presented three thought-provoking solo shows. Tavener has also had solo exhibitions with Gosford Regional Art Gallery, Incinerator Art Space, Vaucluse House, Legge Gallery and Camera Lucida Gallery. Her 2018 show, titled The Last Seed, addressed the way in which scientists, governments and corporations have been banking nature, in an effort to preserve a world constantly facing destruction. Frozen fruits and vegetables encasing seeds are seen drowning amongst coloured silky clouds and a backdrop of darkness in this series of photographs, which were conceived in light of a recent flood that threatened the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. This vault houses 5,000 species of essential food crops deep within the Arctic permafrost.
Tavener’s interest in exploring the changing nature of consumption, the geopolitics of food production and distribution, and its effect on the environment can be seen throughout her oeuvre. This includes Strange Fruit (2013), a photographic suite imaging exotic and heirloom fruits as ice sculptures, calling to mind the shrinking polar icecaps, as well as Memento (2015) which shows objects symbolic of decay and transience (such as a skull, a timepiece and various fruits) that have been frozen in time as they sink beneath the icy water’s surface. Other series include ornate jelly sculptures cast in resin and a decadent Victorian banquette formed from sugar paste.
These works and more have seen Tavener exhibited internationally in Korea, Iceland and throughout Australia, as well as being a finalist in numerous awards, including the Blake Prize, the Sir John Sulman Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW, the National Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra and the Olive Cotton Award for Photographic Portraiture. In 2017 she won the Major Award of the North Sydney Art Prize and in 2016 won the Major Award of the Hornsby Art Prize. She completed the ASIM Residency in Reykjavik, Iceland in 2017, with support from the Australian Cultural Fund, and was an artist in residence at the Historical Houses Trust in 2010.
Tavener has work in the collections of North Sydney Council, Hornsby Council, Wagga Wagga Regional Art Gallery and the University of Western Sydney. She holds a BA in Fine Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Professional Art Studies - City Art Institute, Sydney, a Graduate Diploma in Education - University of Technology, Sydney and a MFA from the University of NSW.