Queensland Artist Judy Watson Announced for Major Public Work
21 JULY 2016
QUEENSLAND ARTIST JUDY WATSON ANNOUNCED FOR MAJOR PUBLIC WORK
Queensland Indigenous artist Judy Watson has been selected to create a major public artwork to be positioned adjacent to the entry of Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA).
QAGOMA Director Chris Saines, CNZM said the Queensland Indigenous Artist Public Art Commission was a highlight in the program celebrating GOMA’s 10th anniversary in 2016.
‘The proposed artwork will make a significant addition to the memorable public works already situated in Brisbane’s Cultural Precinct, and be a potent reminder of the ongoing role that Queensland’s Indigenous artists play in telling their own stories and in the greater cultural life of this country,’ Mr Saines said.
‘The Gallery received expressions of interest from Indigenous artists in urban, regional and remote areas around Queensland who were interested in undertaking the commission.
‘We received submissions from artists in the Torres Strait, Mornington Island, Girringun Community, Lockhart River, Cairns and Brisbane, and from Queensland-born artists now living in Canberra and Melbourne.’
Mr Saines was joined by a selection panel of highly regarded Indigenous Australians including historian and anthropologist Michael Aird, QAGOMA Curator of Indigenous Australian Art Bruce McLean, architect Kevin O’Brien and Gallery board member Avril Quaill to determine the successful concept for this major public work.
‘The panel unanimously selected Judy Watson’s proposal for a bronze sculpture inspired by the traditional woven fishing nets of south-east Queensland’s Aboriginal communities,’ Mr Saines said.
‘The panel determined Watson’s proposed artwork would make a powerful and evocative new addition to Brisbane’s Cultural Precinct. Based on an everyday object that was an integral tool in the lives of people who fished the banks of Brisbane River and Maiwar Green, the artwork references the land on which it will sit, and acknowledges the traditional owners of the site and the wider region.’
‘Drawing from archival material in the Queensland Museum and State Library of Queensland, Judy Watson has researched and thought deeply about the site to present a vision which immediately speaks to local saltwater waterways and estuaries.
‘The artwork directly references the fibre arts that were traditionally a woman’s responsibility, and fishing, something typically associated with men. Though the object – known as a ‘tow row’ - is specific to the region, weaving as a technique is shared by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,’ Mr Saines said.
‘Judy’s proposal extends the mark-making of her painting, printmaking and installation practice by inviting interplay between the open weave of her sculptural form and the moving shadows it will cast across the surrounding GOMA forecourt during the day.
‘We are delighted that Judy will reinscribe this humble everyday object back into the landscape where it has been used, renewing an inherently traditional and local story and bringing it into our contemporary memory.’
Mr Saines said the commission responded directly to community sentiment for more visible representation of Indigenous artists in Brisbane’s Cultural Precinct, and addressed the Gallery’s commitment to promoting greater community awareness of Indigenous histories and people.
‘We are advocating for the ongoing role Indigenous people play in the narrative of place, community and culture in contemporary Australia, and this artwork will visibly honour Indigenous artistic practice, now and into the future.’
Judy Watson was born in 1959 in Mundubbera, Queensland. Her Aboriginal matrilineal family are from Waanyi country in north-west Queensland. Watson lives and works in Brisbane and has exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas. In 2015 she was the recipient of the Australia Council Visual Arts Award and her work is held in all Australian State Art Galleries and international collections including 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; and important private collections.
The Gallery will work with Judy Watson to realise the artwork for the corner of the Maiwar Green adjacent to GOMA’s main entrance. Throughout the process there will be ongoing discussions with DATSIP and members of the Indigenous communities who identify with the land where the artwork will be sited.