Judy Napangardi Watson

Date of Birth: c1925 – 2016
Region: Tanami Desert
Community: Lajamanu
Language: Warlpiri
Social Affiliation: Napangardi subsection

Judy Watson was born in c1925 at Yarungkanji, Mt. Doreen Station, at the time when many Warlpiri and other Central and Western Desert Peoples were living a traditional nomadic life. With her family Judy made many trips on foot back to and lived for long periods at Mina Mina and Yingipurlangu, her ancestral country on the border of the Tanami and Gibson Deserts. These places are rich in bush tucker such as wanakiji, bush plums, yakajirri, bush tomatoes, and wardapi, sand goanna. Judy still frequently goes hunting in the country west of Yuendumu, near her homelands.  Judy was taught painting by her elder sister, Maggie Napangardi Watson. She painted alongside her at Warlukurlangu artists for a number of years, developing her own unique style. Though a very tiny woman Judy had ten children, three of whom she outlived. She was a woman of incredible energy, which is transmitted to her work through her dynamic use of colour, and energetic “dragged dotting” style. She developed a popular and distinctive style of contrasting lines of colour with richly textured surfaces. She was at the forefront of the move towards more abstract rendering of Jukurrpa by Warlpiri arists, however her work retains strong kurruwarri, the details which tell of the sacredness of place and song in her culture. Judy’s Jukurrpa are Ngarlyipi (Snake Vine), Karnta (Woman), Mina Mina, and Kanakurlangu.

Janganpa / Mawurrji Jukurrpa (Native Possum & Mawurrji Dreaming)11 x 1 metre large collaborative Canvas for the foyer of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, SydneyAboriginal Art Museum, UtrechtGordon Darling Foundation, CanberraFlinders University Art Museum, MelbourneNational Gallery of Australia, CanberraNational Gallery of Victoria South Australian Museum, AdelaideMuseum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

Selected Group Exhibitions:
2005 – Yilpinji, Love, Magic and Ceremony, Galerie DAD, Mantes-la-Jolie, France. 2004 – Colour Power – Aboriginal Art Post 1984, National Gallery of Victoria Federation Square, Melbourne; EXPLAINED, A closer look at Aboriginal art, Aboriginal Art Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands. 2003 – Colours of Mina Mina, Raft Artspace, Darwin, NT; 20th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin. 2002 – Warlukurlangu Artists Cooperative of Yuendumu, Jeffrey Moose Gallery, Seatlle USA; Warlukurlangu Artists Cooperative of Yuendumu One Union Square Lobby, Seattle, USA; New Paintings from Yuendumu Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London; Warlukurlangu Collection Parliament House, Canberra. 1998 – Art Gallery Culture Store, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; A Thousand Journeys, Tin Shed Gallery, University of Sydney.1995 – SOFA, Miami, U.S.A; SOFA, Chicago, U.S.A; Bellas Gallery, Brisbane. 1994 – Armstrong Gallery, Florida; Power of the Land, Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria; Echoes of the Dreamtime, Osaka, Japan.  

Select Bibliography:
Australian National University Crossing Cultures: Art from the Boxer Collection. ANU, Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra 2000 Morphy, H. Aboriginal Art, Phaidon Press Limited, London,1998. Morphy, H. and Boles, M.S. (eds.) Art from the land University of Virginia Press, Virginia, U.S.A., 1999. Ryan, Judith (editor), Colour Power – Aboriginal Art Post 1984, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2004 (C). Birnberg & Kreczmanski, Aboriginal Artists dictionary of biographies, JB Publishing,(C)   © Discovery Media, Documentation Pty Ltd, and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies