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 country and cultures that made them and the curators of these collections are colloquially known as ‘the keepers’.
Join Judy Watson in conversation with Jonathan Parsons as they discuss the themes raised by this artwork. How does an object embody and carry knowledge? Is its potency diminished by taking it out of country and should they be returned?
Audiences will also have an opportunity to view Judy Watson’s video work, ‘the keepers’ online for a limited time. Book now to receive the online screener link and submit your questions ahead of time.
Find out more about this artwork, showing as part of Experimenta Make Sense: International Triennial of Media Art, 12 December 2020 – 14 February 2021, Benalla Art Gallery (Benalla, VIC) www.experimenta.org/makesense
About the Speakers
Judy Watson was born in Mundubbera, Queensland, in 1959. Watson's Aboriginal matrilineal family are from Waanyi country in north-west Queensland.
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
Jonathan has over twenty years of experience working in arts and culture in Australia and internationally. In 2013 and 2015 he was the Creative Director of Robotronica, an event held by the QUT Science and Technology Centre featuring the latest in robotics. He was the Director of ISEA2013 (International Symposium on Electronic Art) an international festival of art, technology and ideas in partnership with Vivid Sydney.
Jonathan Parsons has over twenty five years of experience working as a curator, artistic director and creative producer in Australia and internationally. He initiated and was the Creative Director of Robotronica (2013 – 2019), a biennial festival of robotics and interactive design at QUT in Brisbane. He was the Director of ISEA2013 (International Symposium on Electronic Art) an international festival of art, technology and ideas in partnership with Vivid Sydney.
He has artistically led and collaborated on a broad range of cultural programs and events across all art forms including for the State Library of Queensland, Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Riverfestival, Byron Bay Writers Festival, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival, Pacific Wave Festival, Adelaide Festival of the Arts, Awesome Festival and the London International Festival of Theatre.