Bronze sculptures reference dillybags & termite forms


Visit the latest Queensland Art Gallery Watermall installation featuring the powerful scultpures of walama 2000 until 11 August 2024. The exhibition ‘mudunama kundana wandaraba jarribirri’ celebrates the work of Queensland artist Judy Watson — born in Mundubbera and lives and works in Meeanjin/Magandjin/Brisbane — in her most extensive solo exhibition to date.

walama (illustrated) consists of 17 bronze forms — these forms range in size from 30 centimetres to 1.5 metres in height — each mound has its own characteristics: a jaunted lean, dimples, or patinaed colouration. The work draws its title from the Eora Nation’s word for ‘return’, and speaks to a shared understanding of the importance of returning to Country.

These bronze sculptures reference upturned dillybags and tall termite forms. Each moulded form is distinct in form and colour, as though each vessel holds stories of place and time.

Judy Watson ‘walama’ 2000

Judy Watson, Waanyi people, Australia b.1959 / walama 2000 installed in ‘mudunama kundana wandaraba jarribirri: Judy Watson’, Queensland Art Gallery (QAG), Brisbane 2024 / Bronze, 17 parts (height x diam.): Part A: 159 x 60cm; part B: 151 x 55cm; part C: 155 x 60cm; part D: 120 x 50cm; part E: 115 x 44cm; part F: 119 x 46cm; part G: 99 x 48cm; part H: 120 x 58cm; part I: 131 x 60cm; part J: 120 x 58cm; part K: 131 x 60cm; part L: 90 x 30cm; part M: 105 x 30cm; part N: 90 x 40cm; part O: 100 x 40cm; part P: 40 x 20cm; part Q: 35 x 20cm / Collection: The artist, Milani Gallery and UAP Brisbane (Meeanjin/Magandjin) / © Judy Watson/Copyright Agency

The spirit of much of Watson’s work stems from the Waanyi homelands of her grandmother and great-grandmother in the Gulf Country of north-west Queensland. ‘mudunama kundana wandaraba jarribirri’ are Waanyi words written by the artist’s son, Otis Carmichael, meaning ‘tomorrow the tree grows stronger’. Just as a young tree grows in strength, the act of reclaiming and voicing Indigenous language encourages a regeneration of culture.

Details of Judy Watson’s walama 2000 during casting at Urban Art Projects, now on display in the Queensland Art Gallery’s Watermall / Courtesy: The artist, Milani Gallery and UAP Brisbane (Meeanjin/Magandjin) / © Judy Watson

Acknowledgment of Country
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Gallery stands in Brisbane. We pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present and, in the spirit of reconciliation, acknowledge the immense creative contribution First Australians make to the art and culture of this country. It is customary in many Indigenous communities not to mention the name or reproduce photographs of the deceased. All such mentions and photographs are with permission, however, care and discretion should be exercised.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are respectfully advised that this exhibition contains images of ancestors, now deceased, and references to strong themes of colonial frontier violence.