Judy Watson introduces tow row


Judy Watson’s work is deeply connected to concealed histories, the significance of objects and the power of memory and loss. In tow row, Watson has responded to a site close to the Brisbane River by referencing woven nets used by Aboriginal people of the area, acknowledging the traditional owners of the site and their everyday fishing activities on the river and local saltwater waterways.

Watch our documentary on Watson as she discusses her inspiration for the bronze sculpture, her thought process and view the creation and installation of the work at the entrance to the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) by UAP (Urban Art Projects), an internationally recognised local foundry with whom Watson has worked for over 20 years.

Judy Watson, Waanyi people, Australia b.1959 / tow row 2016 / Bronze / Commissioned 2016 to mark the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Gallery of Modern Art. This project has been realised with generous support from the Queensland Government, the Neilson Foundation and Cathryn Mittelheuser, AM, through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist

This use of fibre and water as the conduit for catching fish evokes ideas of sustenance, family, culture, survival. The bark used to make the nets was probably collected from the swamps and scrub in the vicinity of the river. The inner bark fibre would have been rolled along the legs, then woven into nets and attached to wood for easy manipulation during the harvesting of fish. The woven nets allow light and air to pass through them and create beautiful shadows across the surface of the ground. The fragility of the objects cloak their hidden strength, a metaphor for the resilience of Aboriginal people who have held onto the importance of land, culture and family through adversity and deprivation. 


View the installation and more on our Flickr Album