|Education||University of Tasmania, Monash University|
|Known for||Print-making, painting, installation|
|Movement||Indigenous art, contemporary Australian art|
Judy Watson is a multi-media artist who works in print-making, painting, video and installation.
Early life and education
Judy Watson was born in Mundubbera, Queensland in 1959. She is a Brisbane-based, Waanyi artist. She was educated at the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education Toowoomba, where she received a Diploma of Creative Arts in 1979; the University of Tasmania where she received a bachelor's degree (1980–82); and Monash University where she completed a graduate diploma in 1986.
Watson trained as a print-maker and her work in painting, video and installation often relies upon the use of layers to create a sense of different realities co-existing. As an Indigenous artist, the depiction of the land has an ongoing significance in her practice.
In 2005, for French architect Jean Nouvel's Musée du quai Branly she constructed a site-specific work for the building along with a number of other key Aboriginal artists. A film was made about the project, titled The French Connection.
Her work is often highly political, however it is rarely didactic. She describes her attitude to political art as follows:
"Art as a vehicle for invention and social change can be many things, it can be soft, hard, in-your-face confrontational, or subtle and discreet. I try and choose the latter approach for much of my work, a seductive beautiful exterior with a strong message like a deadly poison dart that insinuates itself into the consciousness of the viewer without them being aware of the package until it implodes and leaks its contents."
In the book on Watson's work, blood language (2009) her practice is divided into a number of themes: water, skin, poison, dust and blood, ochre, bones, driftnet. The list indicates the range of natural and cultural forms that underpin her practice.
Watson's recent work can be understood as part of the archival turn in contemporary art. She examines Indigenous Australian histories. For example, a preponderance of aboriginal blood (2005) was commissioned by the State Library of Queensland to celebrate the Queensland centenary of women’s suffrage and forty years of Aboriginal suffrage. The work uses documents from the Queensland State Archives about the way Aboriginal people were precluded from voting. Before suffrage was granted in 1965, eligibility to vote was based on the percentage of Aboriginal blood, hence Watson’s title her series. The series was recently acquired by Tate Modern in London.
Other series that examine history and the archive include the holes in the land (2015). This series of six engravings is about the loss of Aboriginal cultural patrimony. In four of the six images Aboriginal cultural objects held in the British Museum are depicted. The title underscores the damage done to the land—the shadow, depression or blot on the landscape—removal has caused.
2016 the names of places, Green Screen, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane
2015 the holes in the land; heron island suite, experimental beds, Toowoomba Regional Gallery
2014 sacred ground beating heart / experimental beds / heron island suite, Noosa Regional Gallery
2013 experimental beds, Brenda May Gallery, Sydney
2012 shell, Milani Gallery, Brisbane.
experimental beds, University of Virginia, USA and grahame galleries + editions, Brisbane.
2011 - 12 waterline, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne and Embassy of Australia, Washington DC, USA.
2011 heron island suite, Touring Regional Galleries in Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.
2010 heron island suite, grahame galleries + editions, Brisbane.
2009 - 12 heron island, University of Virginia, USA; grahame galleries + editions, Brisbane; and touring across Western Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland.
2009 bad and doubtful debts, Milani Gallery, Brisbane.
2009 heron island, University of Queensland Art Museum; University of Queensland, Brisbane.
1991 Inspiration – Expiration, Australian Girls Own Gallery, Canberra 
Major group exhibitions
First Asia-Pacific Triennale of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, 1993
Antipodean Currents: Ten Contemporary Artists from Australia, Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1995
A Gift to the World: The Australian Indigenous Art Commission at the Musée du quai Branly, Australian Indigenous Art Commission, 2005
Cultural Warriors, Indigenous Art Triennale, National Gallery of Australia, 2007
Art Gallery of New South Wales
National Gallery of Australia
Queensland Art Gallery
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
Tate Modern, London
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart
Awards and nominations
Moet and Chandon Fellowship 1995
National Gallery of Victoria’s Clemenger Art Award 2006
Works on Paper Award at the 23rd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award 2006
- Kngwarreye, Emily Kame; Perkins, Hetti; Watson, Judy; Koolmatrie, Yvonne; Art Gallery of New South Wales; Australia Council; Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission; Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative; Biennale di Venezia 1997). Fluent : Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Yvonne Koolmatrie, Judy Watson : XLVII esposizione internazionale d'arte La Biennale di Venezia 1997. Sydney, N.S.W: Art Gallery of New South Wales. ISBN 0731304039.
- "Naturally in Paris".
- "The French Connection".
- Martin-Chew, Louise (2009). Judy Watson: blood language. Miegunyah Press.
- Best, Susan (March 2018). "Anger and Repair: The art and politics of Judy Watson's the holes in the land (2015)". Third Text.
- "Print titled 'the holes in the land #1', by Judy Watson". National Museum of Australia. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- "Green Screen: Judy Watson: the names of places". Institute of Modern Art. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- Australia, May Space Sydney. "Judy Watson | experimental beds 3 | Brenda May Gallery". MAY SPACE Judy Watson experimental beds 3. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- "SHELL | Milani Gallery". www.milanigallery.com.au. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- "judy watson – experimental beds | Grahame Galleries". www.grahamegalleries.com.au. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- "judy watson – heron island suite | Grahame Galleries". www.grahamegalleries.com.au. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- "Bad and doubtful debts | Milani Gallery". www.milanigallery.com.au. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- "Judy Watson: Heron Island - UQ Art Museum - The University of Queensland, Australia". www.artmuseum.uq.edu.au. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- "Judy Watson". australianartnetwork.com.au. Australian Art Network. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
- QAGOMA. "The 1st Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT1)". www.qagoma.qld.gov.au. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- Karmel, Pepe (1995-06-23). "ART REVIEW; Antidotes for a Cartoonish Image". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- "Judy Watson :: The Collection :: Art Gallery NSW". www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- "Judy Watson". nga.gov.au. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- QAGOMA. "Judy Watson". www.qagoma.qld.gov.au. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- "Judy Watson". Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- "Untitled | Judy Watson~Waanyi | NGV | View Work". www.ngv.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 2017-03-12.