Audio descriptions: Artworks in the exhibition Looking Glass: Judy Watson and Yhonnie Scarce
Judy WATSON standing stone, kangaroo grass, red and yellow ochre 2020, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 250 x 181.5cm, Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. Photo: Carl Warner.
standing stone, kangaroo grass, red and yellow ochre by Judy Watson, 2020.
This artwork consists of paint and graphite on a canvas measuring 250 centimetres high by 181.5 centimetres wide. The work is on unstretched canvas and pinned directly into the wall.
In the centre of the work reaching up to the top and down to the bottom edge is the form of a single narrow standing stone, with a straight thin profile drawn with a graphite pencil outline and coloured a mustard yellow ochre. The standing stone is overlaid with the black silhouette of two strands of kangaroo grass. The leaves and stalks are splayed flat across the left-hand side of the canvas reaching from the bottom of the work up towards the middle of the canvas. On the right-hand side of the standing stone is another silhouette of a cultural object, hovering, this single long, leaning stalk-like form flattened at one end and drawn to a sharp piercing point at the opposite end. Rendered in a rich burnt red ochre it contributes to the multilayered experience of the work and the shifting composition.
In the background of this work, a sky-blue wash fills the canvas, as too evidence of water poured over the canvas with blotches in the top right-hand corner and areas exposing the raw canvas, cream in colour and empty of the blue colour that otherwise fills the background. The markings of the tread of an enlarged shoe print seems to appear halfway up on the left-hand side of the canvas where the artist has used her own footprints to tread colour directly into the canvas fibres. A crisscrossing of lines moves and marks their way across the canvas, anti-clockwise in direction beginning in the top left-hand corner travelling down and around to the mid centre on the right-hand side. This mark making is testimony to Watson’s technique of first placing the canvas flat on the studio floor before pooling water and brushing and scrubbing pigment across the surfaces of her work.
This work was created in response to research trips Watson undertook to visit standing stones and ancestral sites in the United Kingdom. The monolithic standing stones she documented during her travels now fill the surfaces of her paintings in this body of work. Here the artist explores connections of significance between her Waanyi heritage on her mother’s side and her northern European ancestry on her father’s side. The artist’s family history and stories are harnessed here in her approach to artmaking, with the layering of Aboriginal cultural material across the ghostly forms found in stone at these ancient European sites emblematic of her own acknowledgement of the layering of lived experience and culture.