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Judy Watson


Waanyi artist Judy Watson was born at Mundubbera in the Wide Bay-Burnett region of Queensland. Raised in Brisbane she completed a Diploma of Creative Arts at the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba in 1979. She then moved to Hobart and complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Tasmania in 1982 and in 1986 gained a Graduate Diploma in Visual Arts at Monash University, Gippsland.

In 1995, Watson was awarded the Moët & Chandon Australian Art Fellowship. Later that year she along with fellow Indigenous artists Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Yvonne Koolmatrie were selected for ‘Fluent’ the Australian Pavilion exhibition at the 1997 XLVII Venice Biennale. In 2006 she won the Telstra Work on Paper Award at the 23rd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Art Award for her work ‘a preponderance of aboriginal blood’. Later that year she also won the prestigious National Gallery of Victoria’s Clemenger Contemporary Art Award. In 2015 she was awarded the Australia Council Visual Arts Award (artist).

Watson has received a number of major public art commissions over her career. These include the ‘Koori Floor Piece’, floor, Casula Powerhouse Regional Arts Centre, Sydney (1994); ‘wurreka’, etched zinc wall, Bunjilaka, Melbourne Museum, Melbourne (1999); ‘walama’, forecourt, Sydney International Airport, Sydney (2000); ‘Ngarrn-gi Land/Law’, etched zinc wall, Victorian County Court, Melbourne (2002); ‘heart/land/river’, Brisbane Magistrates Court, Brisbane (2004); ‘two halves with baler shell’, glass ceiling and façade, Musée du Quai Branly, Paris (2006); ‘fire and water’, Reconciliation Place, Canberra (2007); ‘fresh water lens’, Turbot Street overpass, Brisbane (2010); ‘gootcha’, vinyl wrap on passenger ferry, City Cat, Brisbane (2010); ‘Tilt Train’, vinyl wrap on train carriages, Queensland Rail (2011); wall design, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Herston (2011) and ‘rain shadow’, Townsville Hospital, Townsville (2011).

Over her career Watson has also undertaken a number of national and international residences including residences in New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, New Zealand, Spain, Hawaii, New Caledonia, India, Canada and Norway. And in 2009 she was the first artist-in-residence at The University of Queensland’s Heron Island Research Station.

A survey show of Watson’s work ‘sacred ground beating heart: works by Judy Watson 1989-2003’ was held at the John Curtin Gallery, Perth in 2003 and at the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane. The show then become a Asialink tour going to Saigon South Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Finomenal Space Colombo, Sri Lanka and the Cultural Centre of the Philippines, Manilla. It also went to regional galleries in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia as well as the University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane.

Furthermore, Watson has had a number of solo exhibitions both nationally and internationally. These include ‘a sacred place for these bones’, Griffith University, Brisbane (1989); ‘untitled’, Mori Gallery, Sydney; Edith Cowan University, Perth; Dhoomimal Gallery, New Delhi, India; Bharat Bhavan Art, Bjopal, India (1994); ‘across country’, Baudoin Lebon, Paris, France (1996); ‘lure’, Milburn Gallery, Brisbane (1997); ‘running water works’, Fisher Gallery, Manakau City, Aotearoa, New Zealand (1997); ‘visceral memory’, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne (2000); ‘cumulus’, Mori Gallery, Sydney; 24HR Art Gallery, Darwin (2001); ‘Judy Watson’, Monash University Centre, Prato, Italy; Commons Gallery, University of Hawaii, Honolulu (2002); ‘shell’, GRANTPIRRIE, Sydney (2006); ‘in the shadows of goya’, Helen Maxwell Gallery, Canberra (2007); ‘heron island’, University of Virginia, USA; grahame galleries + editions, Brisbane; and touring across Western Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland (2009 - 2012); ‘heron island suite’, touring Regional Galleries in Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland (2011); ‘waterline’, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne and Embassy of Australia, Wahington DC, USA (2011 - 2012); ‘experimental beds’, University of Virginia, USA and grahame galleries + editions, Brisbane (2012); ‘the names of places’, Green Screen Project, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2016) and ‘the scarifier’, TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville, Victoria (2016).

Watson has also been a part of a number of national and international group exhibitions including ‘A Koorie Perspective’, Artspace, Sydney & national touring exhibition (1989); ‘True Colours: Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Artists raise the flag’, Blue Coat Gallery, Liverpool, UK; South London Gallery, The City Gallery, Leicester, UK; Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative, Sydney & national tour (1994); ‘Skin: somewhere in the darkness’, Pier 2, Sydney (1995); ‘Creating Together’, Jean-Marie Tjibou Cultural Centre, New Caledonia (1998); ‘Skin Culture’, national & international tour: Earl Lu Gallery, La Salle Sia College of the Arts, Singapore; Tin Sheds Gallery, Sydney; The George Gallery, Melbourne; John Batten Gallery/Fringe Club, Hong Kong; Creation Gallery (Redgate Gallery), Beijing (1999); ‘Wingecarribee Wetlands Fundraiser’, Mori Gallery, Sydney (2000); ‘Home & Away: Place and identity in recent Australian art’, touring exhibition: Monash University Museum of Art; Shepparton Art Gallery; Newcastle Regional Art Gallery; Customs House; Faculty Gallery Faculty of Art & Design Monash University; Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery (2003); ‘artbank: Celebrating 25 Years of Australian Art’, Redland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Carnegie Gallery, Tasmania; Latrobe Regional Gallery, Melbourne; Artspace Mackay; Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Queensland; New England Regional Art Museum, New South Wales; Cairns Regional Art Gallery; Noosa Regional Art Gallery; Geelong Gallery, Melbourne (2006 - 2008); ‘Lessons in History’, Grahame Galleries + Editions, Brisbane (2007); ‘Shards’, South Australia School of Art Gallery, Adelaide (2008); ‘The Museum Effect’, Lake Macquarie City Gallery, Lake Macquarie, New South Wales (2009); ‘Suburbia’, Redcliffe Art Gallery, Redcliffe, Queensland (2010); ‘Luminous World’, Art Gallery of Western Australia (2012); ‘East Coast Encounter: re-imagining the 1770 encounter’, Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney (2014); ‘Living Waters’, Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, Avenue St. Martin (2016) and ‘Unsettled: Stories Within’, Australian National Museum, Canberra (2016).

Watson has had lecturing and tutoring positions at a range of universities including being a Adjunct Professor, Queensland, College of Art, Griffith University and her work is included in the collections of all major state galleries, as well as numerous national and international collections including ATSIC, Canberra; The British Museum, London; Goethe Institute, Melbourne; Holmes-a-Court Collection, Western Australia; Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, University of Virginia, USA; Library of Congress, Washington, USA; Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Museum of Australia, Canberra; National Maritime Museum, Sydney; Sprengel Museum, Hannover; St Louis Art Museum, USA; Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan; Tate Britain, London, UK; Tate Modern, London, UK; Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, Hobart and Tokyo National University of Technology, Japan.