UQ Art Museum, Brisbane

James and Mary Emelia Mayne Centre (Building 11) University Drive The University of Queensland St Lucia Qld
4067 Brisbane

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artist / participant

press release

The exhibition features 66drawings, prints, paintings, artist books, and bones and highlights Watson’s practice over the past 15 years. It documents her personal experiences and connections with her grandmother’s country around Riversleigh station in north-west Queensland, her international travels, explorations of the ‘country’ of the body and recently her childhood in and the history of Brisbane.

The canvas ‘vessel for a deluge’ was inspired by the 1974 Brisbane floods, while ‘found ten inches’ under referred to an Indigenous shield found at Archerfield aerodrome, close to where she grew up at Acacia Ridge, “The shield, which is now in The University of Queensland’s Anthropology Museum, triggered a new sense of Aboriginality for me — I had associated Aboriginal culture with my family in north-west Queensland not suburban Brisbane,” The painting ‘two canoes’, which was the basis for the public artwork, ‘heart/land/river’ at the Brisbane Magistrates Court, alludes to the story of the three convicts who misappropriated two canoes from local Indigenous people to venture up the Brisbane River.

Included in the exhibition is the artist book,’ a preponderance of aboriginal blood’, commissioned by the State Library of Queensland for the exhibition ‘Sufferance: women’s artists’ books’, it is being exhibited for the first time in its bound format. In the book, Watson has overlaid images of blood onto original documents from the archive of the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy’s Community and Personal Histories Branch. “When I saw this material I was outraged at the sort of treatment and classification that my own family, especially my wonderful grandmother, Grace Isaacson, were subjected to by white authorities,” …. “I dedicated the book to Loris Williams who first showed me these documents and introduced me to the term ‘a preponderance of aboriginal blood. Loris was integral to the book’s making, but she passed away before it was completed.”

Judy Watson has won national and international recognition for her work, being awarded the 1995 Moet and Chandon Fellowship and was chosen as the co-representative for Australia in the 1997 Venice Biennale. Her work is held in state and national public collections.


Judy Watson
Selected works 1990-2005