Judy Watson was born in Mundubbera, Queensland. Judy Watson’s Aboriginal matrilineal family is from Waanyi country in north-west Queensland. The artist’s process evolves by working from site and memory, revealing Indigenous histories, following lines of emotional and physical topography that centre on particular places and moments in time.
Spanning painting, printmaking, drawing, sculpture and video, her practice often draws on archival documents and materials, such as maps, letters and police reports, to unveil institutionalised discrimination against Aboriginal people. Exhibiting extensively since the 1980s, Watson co-represented Australia at the 1997 Venice Biennale and won the Works on Paper Award at the 23rd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award in 2006. She was also the recipient of the National Gallery of Victoria’s 2006 Clemenger Contemporary Art Award. In 2011, Watson’s exhibition waterline was shown at the Embassy of Australia in Washington DC, and in 2012, she exhibited in the Sydney Biennale. In 2018, the Art Gallery of New South Wales staged a major exhibition of her work titled the edge of memory. Watson has also received commissions for several public art projects across Australia, including fire and water at Reconciliation Place in Canberra in 2007, ngarunga nangama: calm water dream at 200 George St in Sydney in 2016, and in the same year, tow row for the Gallery of Modern Art’s 10th Anniversary in Brisbane. A significant solo exhibition of her work will open in March 2020 at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. Her work is also included in several significant Australian and international collections, including all of Australia’s state institutions, the National Gallery of Australia, the Tokyo National University of Technology, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the British Museum, and MCA/ TATE. Watson is an Adjunct Professor at Griffith University, and in 2018, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Art History by the University of Queensland.
Born Mundubbera, Queensland, 1959. Lives and works in Brisbane, Australia
- Graduate Diploma in Visual Arts, Monash University, Gippsland
1980 - 82
- Bachelor of Fine Arts, University of Tasmania, Hobart
1977 - 79
- Diploma of Creative Arts, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba
Selected Solo Exhibitions
- bagging colonialism, Cairns Art Gallery, Cairns
- shadow bone, Zimmerli Art Museum, New Jersey, USA
- indigo spine, Milani Gallery, Brisbane
- skeletons, Queensland State Archives, Brisbane
- the skin of painting, Milani Gallery, Brisbane
- Judy Watson, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
- bodies of water and melting snow, Milani Gallery, Brisbane
- the edge of memory, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
- Judy Watson: concealed histories, University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane
- Indigo and Ochre, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne
- the names of places, Green Screen, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane
- A Case Study, Lake Macquarie Gallery, Booragul
- the scarifier, TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville, Victoria
- the holes in the land; heron island suite, experimental beds, Toowoomba Regional Gallery
- sacredground beating heart / experimental beds / heron island suite, Noosa Regional Gallery
- experimental beds, Brenda May Gallery, Sydney
- 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.
- heron island suite, Touring Regional Galleries in Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.
- 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.
- bad and doubtful debts, Milani Gallery, Brisbane.
- heron island, University of Queensland Art Museum; University of Queensland, Brisbane.
- blood language, GRANTPIRRIE, Sydney.
- in the shadows of goya, aotearoa and the museum; Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne.
- in the shadows of goya, Helen Maxwell Gallery, Canberra.
- a complicated fall, Bellas Milani Gallery, Brisbane.
- shell, GRANTPIRRIE, Sydney.
Selected Group Exhibitions
- soft and weak like water, 14th Gwangju Biennale
- shadow spirit, Rising Festival, Melbourne
- Mare Amoris: Sea of Love, University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane
- Réclamer la terre, Palais de Tokyo, Paris
- A Landscape is Not Something You Look At', Milani Gallery, Brisbane
- Judy Watson & Helen Johnson: the red thread of history, loose ends, The Belnaves Contemporary Series, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne
- Looking Glass: Judy Watson and Yhonnie Scarce (touring), QUT Art Museum, Brisbane
- We are ..., The Condensery Somerset Regional Art Gallery, Somerset, Queensland
- Above the Canopy, Town Hall Gallery, Melbourne
- WATERpresence and absence, Blue Mountains City Art Gallery, Katoomba, New South Wales
- A Year in Art: Australia 1992, TATE Modern, London, United Kingdom
- Te Waituhi ã Nuku Drawing Ecologies, Courtney Place, Wellington, New Zealand.
- Works from the Collection of Australian Aboriginal Art, Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri, United States
- On Fire: Climate and Crisis, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne
- djillong dumularra: Carol McGregor and Judy Watson, Artspace, Sydney
- The National 2021: New Australian Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
- Myall Creek and Beyond, University of Sunshine Coast Gallery Art Gallery, Queensland
- Entwined: Plants and People, State Library of Queensland, Brisbane
- Wandamba yalungka .../Winds change direction, Performa (online)
- Hyperlocal, Brisbane City Council Outdoor Galleries, Brisbane
- 경로를 재탐색합니다 UN/LEARNING AUSTRALIA, Artspace and Seoul Museum of Art, South Korea
- Know My Name: Australian Women Artists 1900 to Now, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
- Looking Glass: Judy Watson and Yhonnie Scarce (touring), TarraWarra Museum of Art, Victoria
- First, Redcliffe Art Gallery, Redcliffe
- rite of passage, QUT Art Museum, Queensland
- Terra inFirma, Blacktown Art, NSW
- F_OCUS, Counihan Gallery, VIC
- I OBJECT, Gallery of Modern Art, QLD
- 15th Anniversary Edition, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan
- Australia, Antipodean Stories, Padiglione D'Arte Contemporanea Milano, Italy
- Water, Gallery of Modern Art, QLD
- Legacy: Reflections on Mabo, Umbrella Studio; Redland Art Gallery, QLD, touring
- New Woman, Museum of Brisbane, Brisbane
- Around and within, Space Gallery, Sydney
- Colony: Frontier Wars, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
- Myall Creek and Beyond, New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale
- Hunter Red: Re(a)d Earth, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, Lake Macquarie
- Representation, Remembrance and the Memorial, MADA Gallery, Monash University, Melbourne
- The Art of Healing: Australian Indigenous Bush Medicine, Medical History Museum, University of Melbourne, Victoria
- As far as the eye can see, Logan Art Gallery, Logan Central, Queensland - travelling
- 2017 Australian Collection Permanent Exhibition, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane
- Indigenous Australia: Masterworks from the National Gallery of Australia, Collectors Room, Berlin
- The Dust Never Settles, University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane
- Defying Empire: 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
- Limitless Horizon: Vertical Perspective, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
- water+wisdom Australia India, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne
- Corpus, Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle, NSW
- Starting Young, Gallery of Children's Art, Brisbane, Queensland
- Aura: Repetition, reproduction and the mark of the artist, Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, NSW
- TARNANTHI: Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
- Experimenta Make Sense: The International Triennial of Media Art, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne and touring internationally
- Black Mist Burnt Country, Touring exhibition in NSW, VIC, SA and QLD
- Sugar Spin: you, me, art and everything, Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
- Zero metres about Sea level, CrossArts Projects, Sydney
- Beyond the Tower: UQ Art Museum, 40 Years and Counting, UQAM, St Lucia
- Mapping Australia: Country to Cartography, AAMU Museum of Contemporary Aboriginal Art, Utrecht, Netherlands
- Borders, Barriers, Walls, Monash University Museum of Art, Caulfield
- With Secrecy and Despatch, Campbelltown Arts Centre, New South Wales
- Living Waters, Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, Avenue St. Martin
- Unsettled: Stories Within, Australian National Museum, Canberra
- Everywhen: The Eternal Present in Indigenous Art from Australia, Harvard Art Museums, MA
- Artist and Empire: Facing Britain's Imperial Past, TATE Britain, London
- Contemporary Indigenous Art from Australia, Musee de la civilisation, Quebec, Canada
- When Silence Falls, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
- Unsettled, National Museum of Australia, Canberra
- (inv)isible!, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, Lake Macquarie
- Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation, British Museum, London
- Artists' Books & Multiples, Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery, Toowoomba
- Mirror Mirror Image: prints and plates, Gympie Regional Gallery
- Daughters, Mothers (part of Future Feminist Archive), SCA Galleries, Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney
- Body Politic, Icebox Project Space, Crane Arts, Philadelphia
- Salt Water Country, Gold Coast Art Centre, Gold Coast
- Conflict: Contemporary responses to war, University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane
- East Coast Encounter: re-imagining the 1770 encounter, Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney
- New, University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane
- Theatre of the World, La Maison Rouge, Paris
- Making Change, University of New South Wales Galleries (COFA)
- (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding...?, Bayside Arts & Cultural Centre
- My Country: I Still Call Australia Home, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane.
- Taboo, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.
- Arte Indigena Contemporåneo en Australia, IVAM, Valencia d'Art Modern.
- all our relations, 18th Sydney Biennale, Sydney.
- Luminous World, Art Gallery of Western Australia.
- TABOO, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.
- Making Change, National Art Museum of China, Beijing.
- Contemporary Women, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane.
- Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF), Cairns.
- Spinifex Country and Beyond Asylum, University of Queensland Art Museum, University of Queensland, Brisbane.
2010 - 12
- Roundabout, touring Israel and New Zealand.
- Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.
- Art + Soul, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
- Suburbia, Redcliffe Art Gallery, Redcliffe, Queensland.
- Littoral, Carnegie Gallery Hobart & Burnie Arts Centre, Burnie, Tasmania.
- 100 years: Highlights from the University Art Collection, University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane.
- Culture Warriors, National Indigenous Art Triennial, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and the American University, Washington.
- National Artist’s Self Portrait Prize, University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane.
- Terra Nullius, ACC Galerie, Weimar & HALLE 14, Leipzig, Germany.
- Shards, South Australia School of Art Gallery, Adelaide.
- Arc Biennial, QUT Art Museum, Brisbane.
- Sunshine State, Smart State, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney.
- Lessons in History, grahame galleries
- nerung ballun (Nerang River), HOTA on the Gold Coast, Queensland
- Kingsford Smith Drive, Women's Journey Public Art Commission, Brisbane
- QAGOMA Public Artwork Commission: GoMA's 10th Anniversary
- NGARUNGA NANGAMA: Calm water dream, 200 George St, Sydney
- Project, Finders University, Adelaide
- living wells, fragments Murri Kitchen, Townsville Hospital, Townsville
- water memory, Queensland Institute of Medical Research-foyer, Brisbane
- Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove Billboard, Brisbane
- Tilt Train, Queensland Rail, Gold Coast
- Gootcha, City Cat design, Brisbane
- fresh water lens, Turbot Street Overpass, Brisbane
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
British Museum, London
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane
Allied Queensland Coalfields Collection
Ballarat Regional Art Gallery, Victoria
Bendigo Regional Art Gallery, Victoria
BHP Billiton Art Collection
Brisbane City Art Collection, Queensland
Canberra Institute of the Arts Library, Canberra
Commonwealth Law Courts, Brisbane, Queensland
Cruthers Collection, Perth
Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand
Downlands College, Queensland
Edith Cowan University, Perth
Flinders University, Adelaide
Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education, Victoria
Goethe Institute, Melbourne
Gold Coast City Art Collection, Queensland
Griffith University, Brisbane
Holmes-a-Court Collection, Western Australia
James Cook University, Townsville
James Hardy Collection, State Library, Brisbane
LaTrobe Valley Arts Centre, Victoria
Macquarie Bank, Sydney & New York
Monash University, Melbourne
Museum & Art Gallery, Northern Territory
Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Museum of Australia, Canberra
Northern Territory University, Darwin
Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville
Queensland Museum, Brisbane
Queensland University of Technology Art Museum, Brisbane
South Australian Museum
Sprengel Museum, Hannover
St Ann’s & Gippsland Grammar School, Sale, Victoria
St Louis Art Museum, USA
Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan
Tate Britain, London, UK
Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, Hobart
Tokyo National University of Technology, Japan
Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery, Queensland
University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane
University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba
University of Tasmania, Hobart
University of Technology Sydney, New South Wales
University of Wollongong, New South Wales
Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, New South Wales
Wollongong City Gallery, New South Wales
McLean, Ian. Rattling Spears:A History of Indigenous Australian Art. Reaktion Books Ltd, 2016, pp. 216-18.