Georgia Walsh — Badtjala woman, artist and QAGOMA’s Regional Liaison Officer — shares something of her artistic practice, working with regional and remote communities, and a philosophy of gratitude, joy, and seizing every opportunity.
Describe your work area.
As Regional Liaison Officer (a role generously supported by the Neilson Foundation), I’m part of the QAGOMA Learning team. I am privileged to work alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and communities all over Queensland, delivering the Gallery’s annual Design Tracks and Art as Exchange programs. In my own art practice, I am a printmaker and drawer, and my work of late experiments with trace monotype life drawings on gold pigmented paper. I have a modest studio at home where I do most of my making, and though its often shared with a husband working from home or kids joining in the artmaking fun, they provide a welcome bustle to my hustle.
What work do you most enjoying doing?
Spending time with young artists! I’m so motivated and inspired by the creativity I see in young people. The work I do with youth makes me excited for my two (still very little) children and the change they will bring to the world. I also cherish opportunities to learn about the true history of regional Queensland from some of the amazing and dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge holders.
What research do you do?
My research relates to my work in the cultural learning space. I am interested in the intersection of western systemic hierarchies and First Nations’ knowledge systems, particularly as it relates to learning and pedagogy. I am passionate about on-the-ground experiences and how these are fundamental in continuing oral histories.
How has your practice changed over time?
The more exposure I have to other stories and people, the more inspired I am to pursue new ideas. I think like many artists, those formative years of art college or emerging practice were very introspective. I take great joy in the many ways my work life now informs my practice and research, and feel grateful for the opportunities I have not only to view the world through so many perspectives but also to process and explore these through art.
Where did you grow up, and how do you think this has influenced your practice?
I grew up on a property 30 minutes’ drive from the rural town of Inverell, on Gamilaraay Country in northern New South Wales. Affectionately named ‘The Sapphire City’ for its gem-producing river systems, it was a wonderful place to live. I was raised to appreciate and value my close community and witnessed what is possible with the support of a ‘village’. I miss this aspect of upbringing in the city, but it has only made us reach for larger networks and lean more on family here in Queensland. My colleagues at QAGOMA and the Cultural Centre are part of this network and I see the intertwined nature of my work and life as an extension of my original ‘village’.
I have a first-hand understanding of regional barriers to opportunities, which inspired me to seize them all without hesitation when I moved to Brisbane in 2011. Without this awareness, I would not be where I am today. My career has taken very organic turns that always point to regional communities, intentionally or not, and I am excited to discover how I’ll continue to move towards them in the future.
This text is adapted from an essay first published in QAGOMA’s Members’ magazine, Artlines.
Featured image: Georgia Walsh (Badtjala people), QAGOMA Regional Liaison Officer at Art As Exchange, Koa Country, Winton, October 2022 / Photograph: J Ruckli