During my research into aboriginal art I came across an article about Judy Watson and a description of the way that she works. A number of areas of her work resonated with me as they seemed to mirror some of the thoughts I had been having in relation to my work for Outside the Box, Part 3 of the course. These included:
- The use of layers
- Mapping of both an external and internal landscape
- Using canvas in a way that is more akin to textiles
Watson is influenced by the experiences of her great-grandmother in north-west Queensland and, more widely, the life of indigenous people and the effect of colonialism on their lives. Often, she uses impressions from the actual landscape such as rubbings and incisions and includes these in her work. She also uses natural materials found in a place and colours the canvas while it is laid wet on the ground allowing this to help shape the initial layers on the canvas. Her paintings are not framed but either hung on the wall or laid on the floor.
Internal Landscape (1993) [External link – opens in a new tab]
There are a number of things that appeal to me in this painting. The gold powder in the centre is like an aerial view of a landscape. There appears to be a wash of a dark earth colour beneath this. Beside the gold, to the left, is a ghostly image of a spear associated with the Riversleigh Station where Watson’s grandmother was born. Layered across the canvas is a pattern of white ripples dotted with black. As you look more closely the idea of an aerial view fades a little and it is more like seeing objects submerged in water. The ripples become fish, or are they? Button-like circles seems to pin down the vertical edges of the canvas.
I like the subtleness of the painting and the way that Watson uses techniques from more traditional aboriginal art but in a very individual and reflective way. The different layers, of colour and objects, mean that the image seems to offer something new to consider the more that you look at it.
Deadly Bloom (1997) [External link – opens in a new tab]
This is another unframed canvas using pigment and pastel on canvas. What I like here is the free form use of the pigment and pastel and the vibrancy of the colours. This is something I would like to explore particularly in relation to work that I did for Part 2 of the course regarding stains. I have been considering how to move this forward and the ways in which Watson uses different mediums is something that I intend to explore further and experiment with.
Notes for Studio Practice
- Consider ways to create/use layers
- Think more about idea of external/internal landscape
- External landscape – ways to bring this into the painting – rubbings (Dada?), using site-specific materials
- Work with canvas more experimentally – think of it as a textile
- Experiment with pigments, pastels and staining
Practical Exercise 4 – Artwork – Picnic – https://katespainting2.wordpress.com/outside-the-box/practical-exercise-4-artwork-picnic/
Practical Exercise 1 – Stains – Initial Exploration – https://katespainting2.wordpress.com/honing-in/practical-exercise-1-stains-initial-exploration/
Watson, J. (1993) Internal Landscape. [Painting] At: http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/216.1994/ (Accessed on 06.06.18)
Watson, J. (1997) Deadly Bloom. [Painting] At: http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/209.2011/ (Accessed on 06.06.18)
Willsteed, T. (ed.) (2004). Tradition Today: Indigenous Art in Australia. Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales