Judy Watson: the scarifier
Judy Watson’s Aboriginal matrilineal family are from Waanyi country in north-west Queensland and her process involves working with stories and memories of Indigenous Country. Watson has created a specially commissioned new installation in response to the Museum’s location in the Yarra Valley. Following lines of emotional and physical topography that centre on particular places and moments in time, she has focused on the history of Coranderrk Aboriginal Station near Healesville (1863–1924). Following conversations with Wurundjeri woman Brooke Collins, research into the minutes of evidence—a documentation of the 1881 Parliamentary Inquiry into conditions and management at Coranderrk—and with the permission of Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin AO to reproduce the Fred Kruger photographs of Coranderrk, Watson’s exhibition considers the impact of hops production on those living at the Station. The artists new series of paintings based on the contours of prominent mountains of the Yarra Ranges, invoke both the detailed work of the scarifier as it followed the plough and incised the landscape, along with a topographic view of Country.
Exhibited in conjunction with the Museum’s Panorama exhibition, Watson’s installation offers an intimate and powerful evocation of daily life at Coranderrk, and provides a creative perspective on the memories, scars and psychological impact of the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the colonial landscape.