Judith Wright | A wake (detail) 2011 | Mixed media | Purchased 2011. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Installed at the Gallery of Modern Art for ‘Contemporary Australia: Women’, April 2012 | Photograph: Natasha Harth
A wake 2011
Judith Wright makes works spanning painting, drawing, video and installation, often sustaining dialogues between different media. Dealing with the impermanence and the vulnerability of life, Wright’s recent work has drawn on her enduring themes in new ways, making videos and figurative sculptural installations
A wake 2011 was made for the ‘Contemporary Australia: Women’ exhibition, in 2012. Her first major figurative installation, it marks a new development in her long meditation on death and loss. Wright says ‘the power of the shadow to conjure absence’ directed her to make A wake. The ancient Greeks associated shadows with the soul, and this is true of Wright’s musicians: their shadows are the soul of their music.
The title of the work also suggests that to be awake to the memory of the departed is the only way left to give them life — they persist in our memories as fleeting shadows. Thus, these fantastical musicians are assembled to accompany, with pomp and ceremony, the passage to the afterlife: every shadow is a ghostly refrain of that original loss.