Time with internationally-renowned artist Judy Watson

Somerville House may become part of a work of art after 2018 visiting indigenous artist Judy Watson took rubbings from several areas of the school for an artwork on which she is working.

The internationally-renowned, multi-media artist from Waanyi country in north-west Queensland spent two weeks in August at Somerville as part of the annual Artist-in-Residence visit, teaching students about her art and her cultural background. 

She told the students her art represented the “strength and resilience of Aboriginal women, and really all women”. 

Judy set up a studio in the Junior classroom in the first week, sharing her artistic methods of screen printing, projecting, mono-printing and layering as well as her historical, biological and political influences.

In the second week, Judy set up studio in the Senior art rooms where she collected imagery from the local environment and continued to develop a range of works, some of which layered onto papers that she has been working on for a long time. With the assistance of students, she also took rubbings from various parts of the school, including the foundation stones of Cumbooquepa.

Several students said Judy motivated them to investigate their own culture and to look at the Aboriginal history of their suburb.

Year 4 art student Kohana Dasgupta said that until Judy’s classes, she had not even realised suburbs such as Coorparoo and Woolloongabba were indigenous names.

Many of the students were also fascinated by Judy’s cultural background having a grandmother from the stolen generation and visiting sedimentary rocks in Queensland that date back 1.5 million years to when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Judy, who has been commissioned for her art work around the world, praised the energy and engaged level of questioning from Somerville art students from Prep through to Year 12, and the way in which this positively influenced her own work. For the students, having Judy on campus inspired and challenged them to explore creative ways to express their own stories and ideas in their artwork. 

During her residency, Judy also worked on a collaborative project, Ngamu, for the Mater Cancer Care Centre, celebrating wonderful breast cancer survivors and their supporters. 

The project joined woven vessels from many women in the community, led by artist Sonja Carmichael. 

Somerville teachers and students contributed to the weaving of one of these vessels and the work can now be seen in The Dome in the Mater Hospital.