QAGOMA welcomes new retrospect on acclaimed Waanyi artist Judy Watson
QAGOMA welcomes new retrospect on acclaimed Waanyi artist Judy Watson
QAGOMA welcomes new retrospect on acclaimed Waanyi artist Judy Watson
QAGOMA welcomes new retrospect on acclaimed Waanyi artist Judy Watson

QAGOMA welcomes new retrospect on acclaimed Waanyi artist Judy Watson

Since the 1990s, Brisbane-based artist Judy Watson has garnered international acclaim, with works exhibited at some of the world’s most renowned art institutions. This June, Judy returns to QAGOMA with a highly anticipated new exhibition titled mudunama kundana wandaraba jarribirri (translated as ‘tomorrow the tree grows stronger’) – a career survey of one of Queensland’s most prolific living artists.

Even casual gallery goers are likely to be familiar with the multidisciplinary works of Judy Watson. The Waanyi artist’s 2017 sculpture ‘tow row sits at the entryway to the QAGOMA precinct, beckoning visitors into the centre with a larger-than-life cast iron net that’s interwoven with stories of the location’s First Nation history. 

Raised in Mundubbera, south-east Queensland, Judy has exhibited work on the world stage, representing Australia at the Venice Biennale and joining the collections of institutions such as TATE Modern, The British Museum, the Musée du Quai Branly and more. The latest exhibition is a career survey, traversing across the mediums, themes and stories that have defined Judy’s four-decade practice. Since her early days, Judy has explored the powerful stories and profound truths from the Country of her matrilineal family through diverse, ethereal works of art.

The Brisbane-based artist afforded QAGOMA unprecedented access to her personal archives, working closely with curator Katina Davidson to design the show. “A lot of the artworks in the exhibition are actually from her personal collection,” shares Katina. “Since Judy is an artist who also lives in Brisbane, who has an artist studio in Brisbane, it’s been special to spend in-person time with each other … to be able to go to her house and look through drawers and drawers full of prints and artworks.” 

mudunama kundana wandaraba jarribirri brings together the breadth of Judy’s catalogue, with a sprawling collection of paintings, print works, artist books, video works and sculptures. The centrepiece of the exhibition is in the watermall, which features 18 termite mounds or dillyback forms cast in bronze that range in size. 

Alongside her signature print works and paintings, the exhibition also includes Judy’s collection of public artworks as well as rare video works that were recently gifted to QAGOMA. The earliest of which was created in 1993 and features family Super-8 clips from the 1950s. While Judy’s work tends to deeply focus on the artist’s matrilineal family, this new exhibition brings a renewed sense of intimacy to her career.  

“I knew that there was a lot of information in the public realm about her as an artist so I really wanted to follow through with more personal stories throughout the exhibition,” says Katina. 

Beyond the artworks themselves, the exhibition includes Judy’s own family photos, even gaining its name from a Waanyi language poem written by her son Otis. By focusing on both her personal truths and career strides, QAGOMA hopes to fully recognise the contributions made by Judy to Australian arts and culture. “To be able to show the work of Judy and write her into the history books as one of the most prolific and the most esteemed artists of Queensland currently living and making work, I see that as our core responsibility to the people of Queensland, and the entire country,” says Katina.  

mudunama kundana wandaraba jarribirri opens on Saturday March 23 and is free to view. Find out more on QAGOMA’s website.

To find out more about what’s on in Brisbane, head to our Event Guide.

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