All images are © Judy Watson
Judy Watson was born in Mundubbera, Queensland, in 1959. Watson's Aboriginal matrilineal family is from Waanyi country in north-west Queensland. She co-represented Australia in the 1997 Venice Biennale, was awarded the Moët & Chandon Fellowship in 1995, the National Gallery of Victoria’s Clemenger Award in 2006 and, in the same year, the Works on Paper Award at the 23rd National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award. In 2011 her exhibition waterline was exhibited at the Embassy of Australia, Washington, DC. In 2012 she exhibited in the Sydney Biennale. Her work is held in major Australian and international collections including: National Gallery of Australia; all Australian State Art Galleries; The Tate Modern, London; Taipei Fine Arts Museum; St Louis Art Museum USA; The British Museum, London; Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK; Library of Congress, Washington, USA; Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, University of Virginia, USA; as well as important private collections. She has exhibited widely over the past twenty-five years.
heron island suite, 2009-2010
heron island suite images courtesy the artist and grahame galleries + editions
In February 2009 Judy Watson was appointed artist-in-residence at The University of Queensland’s Heron Island Research Station. Watson’s residency coincided with the official launch of the Research Station, rebuilt after being destroyed by fire in 2007.
At the launch Watson heard leading scientists speak about their areas of research. Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director of the Centre for Marine Studies and Director of the Global Change Institute (both at The University of Queensland), linked global warming to ocean acidification and coral bleaching. Dr Bradley C. Congdon, from the school of Marine and Tropical Biology at James Cook University, Cairns, spoke about how sea temperature changes, due to El Niño and global warming, have affected the fish stocks needed to maintain wedge-tail shearwater populations. Studies by marine biologist, Dr Kathy Townsend, Manager of the University of Queensland’s Moreton Bay Research Station, demonstrated the impact of ingested marine debris on green and loggerhead turtles; especially clear plastic bags, which turtles often mistake for jellyfish.
Watson’s daily walking excursions around the island produced a collection of material for visual research: coral forms, clamshells, seaweed, turtle egg shells, feathers, leaves and vegetation, and sea pods. In her temporary studio, located in one of the new laboratories, the artist made drawings. With her background as a printmaker, Watson decided to use these drawings to make etchings, which evolved into heron island suite.
heron island suite is the first major suite of etchings by the artist. Twenty of the twenty-one proofs exhibited at The University of Queensland Art Museum in October/November 2009 were selected for heron island suite. Plates were then altered and screenprints added to twelve etchings, ten of which are graphs taken from talks by scientists listed above, reproduced with their permission.