Judy WATSON, sacred ground Enlarge 1 /1


Waanyi people

Mundubbera, Queensland, Australia born 1959

sacred ground 1989 Title Notes: Title changed from 'Sacred ground' to 'sacred ground' at request of artist. [Anne McDonald, NGA, August 2002]
Place made: Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Materials & Technique: prints, ink; paper lithograph, printed in black ink, from one stone Support: dark cream wove Lana paper
Manufacturer's Mark: watermark: lower left centre, image of a ram's head.
Edition State: published state
Impression: 3/12
Edition: edition of 12

Primary Insc: Signed and dated lower right below printed image in black pencil, 'Judy WATSON '89'. Inscribed lower centre below printed image in black pencil, 'Sacred ground'. Inscribed lower left penicl '3/12'.
Dimensions: printed image 27.0 h x 32.0 w cm sheet 38.2 h x 46.2 w cm
Acknowledgement: Gordon Darling Australasian Print Fund 1990
Accession No: NGA 90.701
  • Grahame Galleries, Brisbane

sacred ground was one of a series of small lithographs that I made during 1989 when I was artist-in-residence at Griffith Artworks, Griffith University, Brisbane. The printmaking facilities were well equipped and I spent long hours in the lithographic studio, which was set in a beautiful bush environment. At the end of the residency I had an exhibition, a sacred place for these bones. This piece relates to connections with country, particularly my grandmother’s country in north-west Queensland. At the bottom there is a rectangular black shape holding a spear. The spear is from Riversleigh Station where my grandmother was born. I made a drawing of the stone-headed spear at the Queensland Museum, where it is housed in the collections. The black rectangle surrounding the spear represents a fictitious velvet-lined case. I felt a strange contradiction seeing the spear from my grandmother’s birthplace in an alien environment where it becomes a collector’s item, carefully preserved. Yet I also appreciate that I can access this material that connects me back with my grandmother and with country.

There is a central form illuminated by a scatter of light in which I was trying to evoke the presence of my grandmother, the matrilineal link I have with my Aboriginal heritage, my ancestors, our country. The spiralling patterns evoke dust storms, energy, heat, haze, change. The intimacy of the scale of the work was dictated by the series of small lithographic stones on which I drew. The uneven outside shape of the image echoes the edge of the stone.

Judy Watson 2002

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002