Looking Glass: Judy Watson and Yhonnie Scarce is both a love song and a lament for Country; a fantastical alchemy of the elemental forces of earth, water, fire and air.
Watson’s ochres, charcoal and pigments, pooled and washed upon flayed canvases, have a natural affinity and synergy with Scarce’s fusion of fire, earth and air. Watson and Scarce express the inseparable ‘one-ess’ of Aboriginal people with Country, a familial relationship established for millennia.
Together these artists offer a far-ranging and holistic portrait of Country where the creation and experience of art recalls the lived, remembered and inherited history of Aboriginal people. Yet, while their works may refer to specific events, their enigmatic and often intimate forms, gestures and marks also imply an immersive timelessness outside of a linear chronology, outside of ‘this accidental present’; an existence today that is more than the ‘now’. Colloquially, this is often referred to as the Dreaming to imply an ‘extra-consciousness’, an extraordinary perception of the connection of Country, community and culture.
Watson and Scarce, like all Indigenous Australians, share recent and personally painful histories of the destruction, exploitation and degradation of not only the land, but the people of the land. Essentially, this exhibition is about Australia’s secret and dirty war—a battle fought on many fronts from colonial massacres to Stolen Generations, from the Maralinga bomb tests to the climate emergency. In their works, the artists poignantly remind us how the pursuit of the Great Australian Dream is not what it seems. It is, in reality, a nightmare, a shimmering mirage, a candle in the coming storm.
Organised by Ikon and TarraWarra Museum of Art with curator Hetti Perkins.
Image: Yhonnie Scarce, Only a mother could love them 2016, hand blown glass, 25.0 x 15.0 cm diameter each (variable sizes - approx.) Monash University Collection. Purchased by the Monash Business School 2017. Courtesy of Monash University Museum of Art, the artist and THIS IS NO FANTASY, Melbourne.