Vanessa Laurin's deep connection to the natural world is reflected in her many creative outlets, most notably in her self-portrait photography work. Building on her background in wildlife photography and mixed-media collage, her current visual art projects see her stepping in front of the camera, using herself as her subject and her body as her canvas, which she adorns with elements from her garden and curio collection. She weaves her dark tales through various visual styles, ranging from surreal Victorian-inspired storybook tableaux to high-fashion bone art nods to the costuming traditions of her Germanic ancestors. She works alone with a Nikon DSRL camera, and handles all aspects of her craft, from prop- and set-building, to makeup and wardrobe. Her gothic glamour aesthetic celebrates her own physical transformation and challenges conventional beauty portraiture by evoking the darker aspects of sensuality and desire.
Vanessa was born with a spinal defect and subsequently spent most of her life strapped into a back brace, letting her condition define who she was. In recent years, she embarked on a journey to mental and physical wellness, and embraced bodybuilding as a final (and, thankfully, successful) attempt to rid herself of chronic, debilitating pain. To make peace with her past self, she is revisiting the body of musical work that she created while her physical body was broken, and is now breathing new life into her lyrics as fine art self-portraits. Pain influenced every aspect of her songwriting for nearly three decades—from the subject matter to how she handled each instrument to accommodate her deformity. A body that was once cause for embarrassment and frustration is now a source of inspiration and power.
New images are posted on Instagram weekly. Selected prints are available in the shop.
IMPORTANT NOTES ON SKULL AND SPECIMEN COLLECTING
Although Vanessa's work focusses heavily on the endless cycle of of life, death and rebirth, being a lifelong pagan and wildlife advocate, no living creatures have ever been harmed for the sake of her art. All skulls, feathers, taxidermy and other specimens in her collection are treated with the utmost reverence. They are non-CITES, non-SARA and non-MBCA species, and were ethically and sustainably obtained through reputable, cruelty-free and trusted sources. Any songbirds featured in her work are cardboard printouts.
Conservation and awareness are crucial to preserving wildlife and wild places; therefore, if Vanessa's work has inspired you to begin your own collection, it is your duty as a responsible collector to educate yourself on the legal requirements applicable to your country or location of residence. For example, in North America, it is illegal for the general public to possess live native songbirds, corvids or raptors, or their remains (taxidermy, bones, skulls or feathers).
Vanessa Laurin is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist whose songwriting adventures began in 1992, when she picked up her brother's acoustic guitar and took to plucking out melodies instinctively. This would be the first of the dozen instruments that now figure in her musical arsenal. In 1996, she was introduced to Stephane Danis, an established Ottawa-based musician, recording engineer and producer, who would become her mentor and musical partner. The pair have released seven studio albums under the guise of First of June (1997-2013), melding Vanessa's songwriting with Stephane's production chops to create their signature otherworldly vocal harmonies and richly textured musical landscapes. Following the success of her first solo endeavour, The Melancholy Project, Vanessa released BEFORE THE COYOTES COME in 2019, her first album in which she not with the band, but rather, she is the band... and the entire crew. She is currently writing two wildly different albums simultaneously, both to be recorded in the couple's home studio.
|LETTERS TO CORNELIA||A second self-produced, fully solo, piano-driven album, to be released in 2021.|
|UNTITLED PROJECT aka DEFINITELY NOT FIRST OF JUNE||A first offering of a new prog metal duo (Stephane Danis, drums+bass / Vanessa Laurin, vocals), to be released in 2021.|