Judy Watson


the names of places / the keepers


Two recent video works document hidden histories, touching on themes of repatriation, responsibility and recognition.

the names of places presents a research-based mapping of Aboriginal massacre sites across the country. A significant aspect of the project is an invitation to the Australian public to contribute their own knowledge of any such massacres, to be incorporated into a database and website that form part of the evolving project. the names of places creates a space where anybody can contribute their knowledge of massacres of Aboriginal people in Australia, so that the places, names and details of such events can become part of our collective consciousness.

the keepers is a video work that follows the journey of a ‘behind the scenes’ viewing of the Indigenous Australian collections held in the stores of the British Museum. The video conveys both the sensation of viewing the Indigenous collections (a privilege which artist Judy Watson knows few of her fellow Countrymen and women can afford), and what it is like for the objects themselves to be located Out of Country, waiting for their return. The title given to the Curators of Collections in the British Museum are The Keepers.


Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery.

‘the names of places’ artwork credits:
Artist: Judy Watson; Sound Composition and Image Compositing: Greg Hooper; Video compositing: Jarrard Lee.

‘the keepers’ artwork credits:
Artist: Judy Watson; Co-Directors: Judy Watson and Alex Barnes; Co-Producers: Judy Watson and Alex Barnes; Editor: Alex Barnes; Camera: Lasse Johansson and Alex Barnes; Sound Design: Greg Hooper and Alex Barnes; Acknowledgements Gaye Sculthorpe Jill Hasell Rachael Murphy British Museum, London; Waanyi language Courtesy of AIATSIS, Gavan Breen Collection, Item BREEN_G04 – 005115

the names of places

single-channel HD video

21:59 mins

the keepers

single channel video

9:15 mins


Judy Watson’s Aboriginal matrilineal family are from Waanyi country in north-west Queensland. Working from stories and memories, Watson reveals Indigenous histories, following lines of emotional and physical topography that centre on particular places and moments in time.

Watson co-represented Australia in the 1997 Venice Biennale, was awarded the Moët & Chandon Fellowship in 1995, the National Gallery of Victoria’s Clemenger Award in 2006 and, in the same year, the Works on Paper Award at the 23rd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award. In 2011 her exhibition waterline was shown at the Embassy of Australia, Washington DC. In 2012, she featured in the Sydney Biennale. Her work is held in major Australian and international collections including the National Gallery of Australia; all Australian State Art Galleries; the MCA, Sydney; Taipei Fine Arts Museum; the British Museum, London; the Tate, London; Library of Congress, Washington DC; Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, University of Virginia; as well as important private collections. She has exhibited widely over the past twenty-five years.

Video stills courtesy the artist © the artist