Current Issue #488

Amy Joy Watson’s unexplainable landscapes

Amy Joy Watson’s unexplainable landscapes

Amy Joy Watson’s shimmering embroideries and rainbow wire hills reimagine utopian landscapes, moving beyond the natural world as we know it.

Currently on display at Hugo Michell Gallery for SALA, Super Natural Geologies features the 5 panel, 8-metre-long embroidery work, Arkaroola, which was originally created for the Biennale of Australian Art in Ballarat. Inspired by the ancient landscape of Arkaroola in the Flinders Rangers – it holds one of the earliest examples of life on earth – Watson spent two years creating the continuous landscape.

“Geology is something I have become really interested in, so experiencing the ancient landscapes of Arkaroola influenced my practice,” says Watson. “Looking at strata or layers of rock you can read the history of time preserved in a physical thing. I have represented these layers through the lines of thread.”

Amy Joy Watson, Rainbow Ranges (Photo: Andy Nowell)

Also on display is the installation, Rainbow Ranges which has emerged from Watson’s need to create something sculptural after spending two years stitching through paper. Made of various wire structures that Watson has woven colourful thread around, the forms will be laid out to represent a mountainous range.

These works are different to Watson’s previous sculptural forms, which were made of balsawood, joined together with coloured stitching. Initially the stitching was used to join the edges together but it evolved and became a way to embellish the surfaces and emphasise the planes. With these new sculptures Watson has removed the surface from the structure leaving just the stitching.

“I was thinking about describing spatial planes with directional lines of thread removing rigid surfaces. I wanted to make something wobblier and more organic, which was a reaction to working on flat paper for such a long time,” states Watson. “Even if the forms are not geometric I am still approaching them with geometry.”

Amy Joy Watson (Photo: Nici Cumpston)
Amy Joy Watson (Photo: Nici Cumpston)

For Watson, who grew up with a conservative Christian faith believing that the earth was only 6000 years old, and created in six days by a supernatural act of God, part of Super Natural Geologies explores this fantastical idea and how it is contradicted by Yura Muda (Adnyamathanha Dreaming), geology and ‘deep time’.

“I like that the wire sculptures resemble instruments as well as rainbows and mountainous forms. They are playful and feel as though they could be ‘played’. While the works are similar to earlier work they are a bit different in that I’m pushing what I can do with thread rather than relying on the lovely surface of balsawood and watercolour,” explains Watson.

During SALA there will also be an open studio or “Shed Show” where, alongside some of Watson’s work, her partner Andy Nowell of Sunny’s Pizza will exhibit his photographs. Banjo Jackson, a poet and musician, will also contribute.

Amy Joy Watson: Super Natural Geologies
Hugo Michell Gallery
August 1 – 24, 2019

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