JUDY WATSON : skeletons

From 3 June 2023

Internationally acclaimed Waanyi artist Judy Watson created challenging new works for her latest exhibition, ‘skeletons’.

The newly created multi-media works feature alongside textiles, photographs, and her famous work, ‘a preponderance of aboriginal blood’. This work uses copies of records from the archives, and was previously on display at the Tate Modern in London, UK, for 12 months.

This exhibition opens the closet doors to Australia’s skeletons. An invitation to walk through the threshold of an alternative national narrative. Discovering buried evidence within the state’s archives, bringing light to undisclosed happenings, validating the mistruth of terra nullius, subsequent colonial conflicts, and the continuation of Aboriginal resistance.

As one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, Judy’s practice is informed by her cultural identity with both lived and inherited experiences as a Waanyi woman from northwest Queensland.

Judy uses evidence discovered in the archives to bring to light colonial conflicts, the mistruth of terra nullius, and stories of Aboriginal resistance. Her video works are presented alongside her raw unframed and unstretched textile works that directly reference files from the archives. These artworks provide moments of recognition for First Nation peoples, acknowledging their hardship, resilience, spirit, and continued sovereignty.

The exhibition has been curated by Amanda Hayman (Wakka Wakka / Kalkadoon), from Blaklash Creative. Blaklash Creative presents Indigenous homegrown artists and creates a meaningful and ongoing connection between First Nations cultural places and stories.  

This exhibition is presented in partnership with Blaklash, Queensland State Archives, and Milani Gallery.

Content Warning

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are advised that some of the events or people present in the works may be from their community and ancestors. Content will contain names, images or recordings of people that have since passed. While engaging with this content you will hear or see violent or racist content. Some content contains terms and attitudes reflective of the period in which the event occurred and may be considered inappropriate today.

About the Artist

Judy Watson is a Waanyi multi-media artist who works in printmaking, painting, video and installation. Her work often examines Indigenous Australian histories, and she has received a number of high-profile commissions for public spaces. Judy often uses archival documents and photographs in her art. For her well-known artwork a preponderance of aboriginal blood 2005, she used documents from Queensland State Archives, revealing how Aboriginal people were discriminated against over their voting rights.

About the Curator

Amanda Hayman is a creative thinker and has expertise in contemporary Aboriginal art, exhibition curation and activating spaces. She has a particular interest in social history in relation to place, especially First Nations oral histories and living memories, and enjoys working in partnership with artists and designers to creatively express these narratives. Central to this, is her aspiration to design a positive audience experience whilst also embedding Indigenous perspectives in an attempt to foster empathy and work towards national reconciliation.

Exhibition Events

exhibition opening
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Main Image: Judy Watson, Bones (detail). Courtesy of the artist.