Judy Watson was born in Mundubbera, Queensland, in 1959. Watson’s Aboriginal matrilineal family are from Waanyi country in north-west Queensland. Her process lies in revealing hidden stories within Country, working from site and memory, revealing Indigenous histories, following lines of emotional and physical topography that centre on particular places and moments in time.
She 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 waterlinewas exhibited at the Embassy of Australia, Washington, DC. In 2012 she exhibited in the Sydney Biennale. In 2015, Judy Watson was the recipient of the Australia Council Visual Arts Award. In 2018, the Art Gallery of New South Wales staged a major exhibition of her work titled the edge of memory. Watson also received commissions for several public art projects across Australia, includingfire and waterat Reconciliation Place in Canberra in 2007, ngarunga nangama: calm water dream at 200 George St in Sydney 2016, and in the same year tow row for the Gallery of Modern Art’s 10th Anniversary in Brisbane. In 2020 a significant solo exhibition of her wok was presented at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, and Looking Glass: Judy Watson and Yhonnie Scarce was presented at Tarrawarra Museum of Art—this exhibition will subsequently embark on a national tour of Australia. Watson currently has a major new body of work on display at Artspace in djillong dumularraalongside Carol McGregor (16 January – 5 April, 2021).
Her work is held in major Australian and international collections including: National Gallery of Australia; all Australian State Art Galleries; MCA/TATE Modern, London; Taipei Fine Arts Museum; St Louis Art Museum USA; The British Museum, London; Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK; Library of Congress, Washington, USA; Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, University of Virginia, USA; as well as important private collections.
A major survey of works made from 1989-2003 was exhibited at the John Curtin Gallery, Curtin University, W.A. in 2003 and at the Institute of Modern Art Brisbane in 2004. A version of sacred ground, beating heart was toured by Asialink in 2004 in Vietnam, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. It was also exhibited at the University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane and toured regional venues in Australia
Watch ⟶ Finders Keepers:
In Conversation with Judy Watson
How do we make sense of an object that has been stripped of its context by being placed in a museum collection? Judy Watson’s video ‘the keepers’ documents and reflects on her experience of researching the extensive Indigenous Australian collections held in the British Museum. This vast collection of artifacts is housed far from the […]