Meet Judy Watson, the artist exploring her Aboriginal heritage and using art to bring about social change.
Judy Watson was born in 1959 in Munduberra, Queensland, Australia and lives and works in Brisbane.
The artist uses printmaking, drawing, painting and installation to explore themes relating to her Aboriginal heritage.
Watson’s matrilineal family is from Waanyi country in Northwest Queensland and her work is inspired by traditional Waanyi culture.
‘Artists are strange creatures’, Watson says. ‘We have that passion to follow through working with chaos, issues within the environment, racial issues – which I look at a lot.’
‘As soon as you start channelling who you are into your artwork, you will have more inner strength and be able to deal with adversity,’ she continues.
Look closer at Judy Watson’s art:
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So my background is as a print-maker but equally
drawing is probably one of the most integral parts of my practice I'm interested in cultural memory tied to
place and so I'll sometimes use objects within work I really like the idea of people working together Your hands are busy doing something You're looking down, you're not looking at
each other Communication gets shared Certainly my mum and my grandmother have inspired
me a lot I've got both aboriginal through mum's side
of the family and I've also got my father's side, non-aboriginal heritage, but I think
it's something I've always been interested in This is my mother Joyce and my cousin Dot
Watson doing some sowing for me My stitching will be so good I'm going to
rub out Judy's marks behind it Judy's a strong one and she's made me be more
outspoken A lot of years I've gone along blithely and
it's very good to have that but also to be aware and outspoken if you feel it needs to
be said Say it about what's going on in the country It's not enough, it's swept under the carpet
all the time All Queensland aboriginal people were documented
so we've got masses of papers in the archives which we can… As artists, it's a great resource, but it's
also a heavy burden, to read how my grandmother and her mother were treated And then we've got the oral histories of our
family as well The title [a preponderance of aboriginal blood]
comes from a quote which is in some documents that I found in the state archives This one here, it says 'identification number' Their 'breed' You know, 'breed' 'Full-blood, half-caste, quadroon' Sometimes it used to say, instead of 'half-caste'
it said 'half-blood' After looking at this I thought, I need to
see my own family's files and I was the first person from my direct family to see them As soon as you start channelling who you are
into your work, into your artwork, you will have more inner strength and be able
to deal with adversity It's not the only thing you will need to do
but it's something Artists are strange creatures We're not defined by institutions We're not pigeon-holed in the same way I would say we've all got obsessive compulsive
disorders and that's why we do what we do We have that passion to follow through in
terms of working with chaos, working with issues within the environment, racial issues,
which I look at a lot These ones here are getting this sort of texture
by trampling nets and things that I get from rivers, garbage And I'll place it on works and work on two
at a time So I wet them down and then dance on them
and then push the netting in and then come back over later with overlays in paint When it comes to prints I know how to keep
everything pristine and well-registered So then when it comes to this it's like going
beyond the boundaries of what you can see past the blinkers of restrictions into another
space And if I don't like it then I just wash it
all off and start again I do a lot of projection of things too So for example here I'm using food carrying
bags and then I will project them and then sometimes work with the painted projection I love shadows I love working with the shadows in everything There are so many issues around Australia
that we have to make a stand for and so there's many artists making work in protest and I think that's
what you can do as an artist You can stand up You can resist And you can use art as a platform to discuss