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Judy Watson

Judy Watson

Judy Watson | Waanyi language group | Australia b.1959 | sacred ground beating heart 1989 Natural pigments and pastel on canvas | 215 x 190cm | Purchased 1990. The 1990 Moët & Chandon Art Acquisition Fund Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | © Judy Watson, 1989. Licensed by VISCOPY, Sydney 2004.

Judy Watson, 'sacred ground beating heart', 1989

Judy Watson
Waanyi language group
Australia b.1959
sacred ground beating heart 1989
Natural pigments and pastel on canvas
215 x 190cm
Purchased 1990. The 1990 Mo�t & Chandon Art Acquisition Fund
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
© Judy Watson, 1989. Licensed by VISCOPY, Sydney 2004.

Judy Watson

sacred ground beating heart 1989

when you walk in that country
the earth is beating pulsating heat, blood, heart
things are hidden
like the bones of the people who have been there before
you are walking in their footprints

Judy Watson, 1990

Judy Watson paints the traces of her Indigenous family on the land, exploring issues such as heritage, identity and isolation. 

sacred ground beating heart 1989 simultaneously suggests an aerial perspective of parched land, or a distant memory, perhaps even the materialisation of an emotion. The central figure hovers within air currents and shimmering heat, and is formed by spiralling dust particles. It may represent the artist, or an ancestral presence, perhaps even a guardian spirit. 

These references are intensely personal. In 1990 Judy Watson journeyed to her grandmother's birthplace in Waanyi country in far north-west Queensland. She wrote:

It was lovely taking Nan back to Riversleigh Station and to Lawn Hill Gorge. She ground sugarbag and spinifex resin for us, and showed us all the other bush foods . . . My uncle showed us rock art, middens, burial sites and places where stone tools were lying all over the ground.

This was Judy Watson's homecoming. She said that before she went to Waanyi country, even when sacred ground beating heart was painted, it was as though she made art about what she thought it was like there.