Installation view of Layla Vardo’s work <em>Orders of magnitude</em> 2021 on display as part of the <em>Melbourne Now</em> exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March – 20 August 2023.  Image: Tom Ross

Layla Vardo

Layla Vardo
(b. 1976, Wales. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Layla Vardo is a Welsh-Australian artist who relocated to Australia in 1982. She is primarily a video artist, and her work explores themes of transformation and mortality within contemporary media culture.

Orders of magnitude, 2021, is a video work charting the seventy-year career of English broadcaster, television presenter and natural historian Sir David Attenborough. Constructed from snippets of his presentations to camera, Orders of magnitude suppresses Attenborough’s renowned voice, foregrounding the breath and gestural expression between speech. From black-and-white through to contemporary colour transmission, the viewer is taken on a chronological journey through Attenborough’s television career using only clips of his fleeting inhalations. In an extension of Vardo’s body of video works based in documentary and television footage, Orders of magnitude memorialises Attenborough as an icon of natural history television while at the same time flips the anthropological gaze back onto him through a postcolonial lens.

Vardo graduated from RMIT University School of Art (Media Arts) in 2007. With a career dating back to the early 2000s, her early works spanned performance and installation before moving increasingly towards screen-based and video works. Her 2009 work O-bit was exhibited at Hatched 2010 at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, where it was awarded second place in the Dr Harold Schenberg Art Prize. In the same year, Vardo was a finalist in the John Fries Memorial Prize and the RBS Emerging Artist Award. She was a finalist in the Footscray Art Prize in 2021, and in 2023 graduated with a Masters of Contemporary Art from the Victorian College of the Arts, where she was awarded the Orloff Family Charitable Trust Award.