A large-scale bronze sculpture by Indigenous Australian artist Judy Watson recently fabricated by creative studio UAP, is now on public display at the entrance to the Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Queensland, Australia.
The Queensland Art Gallery │Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA)’s second site, GOMA made its debut in 2006 and since then has become a leading institution for contemporary art of Australia, Asia and the Pacific.
QAGOMA is located in an adjacent river-side building.
UAP has an international reputation for collaborating with renowned artists to design and deliver large-scale artworks. In 2016 the company was appointed by QAGOMA to work with Judy Watson to help realise the artist’s concept for tow row.
Commissioned to celebrate GOMA’s 10th anniversary, the major public artwork was unveiled on 2 December, 2016. It is a potent reminder of the ongoing role Queensland’s Indigenous artists play in telling their own stories, and in contributing to the greater cultural life of Australia.
The beautiful netted form directly references a fishing net typically used by south east Queensland’s Aboriginal communities and it is a symbol of the importance of land, sustenance, family, culture and survival.
In developing the concept for the artwork Watson referred to archival material in the Queensland Museum and the collection of the State Library of Queensland. She researched and thought deeply about the site to present a vision which immediately speaks to local saltwater waterways and estuaries.
Judy said she imagined the work as a delicate, beautiful and poignant form that in the light would cast elegant shadows, and would draw people towards it.
“The ethereal tow row emerges from the ground and creates an emotional landscape and educative entry into GOMA. The netted form will be a lasting memory of the indelible Aboriginal presence that is a part of this shared space,” she said.
The weave pattern for tow row was developed by Judy in collaboration with Elise Jane (Leecee) Carmichael, an emerging Indigenous Australian artist. Elise’s postgraduate research has focused on the traditional basket weaving techniques used by her relatives and ancestors the Quandamooka people from North Stradbroke Island, off the coast of Queensland.
tow row was fabricated in UAP’s Brisbane workshop in Queensland by an expert team of foundry craftspeople.
After Judy and Elise completed the 15 square metre hand-woven fibre fishnet, it was carefully pinned and draped over a sculpted styrofoam cast. UAP’s expertly experienced foundry workers then used silicone bronze to cast and create the final dramatic form. Situated at the entrance to the Gallery of Modern Art, the bronze sculpture directly references the site’s Indigenous history.
Daniel Tobin, Creative Director and Co-Founder from UAP, said: “UAP’s collaborations with Judy Watson have spanned over twenty years from her first public commission at Casula Powerhouse in the mid-nineties; her cast bronze stones for the 1997 Venice Biennale; Sydney’s ngarunga nangama: calm water dream at 200 George Street and most recently tow row for QAGOMA. We were honoured to be part of her diverse and talented team delivering such a significant work.”
UAP’s previous collaborations have also been culturally significant and include ‘First Contact’, a sculptural project with artist Laurel Nannup that embodies the artist’s Aboriginal noogar roots and memories of the Stolen Generations. UAP was also involved in artist Idris Khan’s dramatic, slanted stone walls, which form the centrepiece of Wahat Al Karama, UAE’s first impressive war memorial in Abu Dhabi.
QAGOMA has a reputation for strong international participation, staging a dynamic program of both Australian and international exhibitions. tow row makes a significant addition to the collection of public art already situated in Queensland’s Cultural Precinct.
tow row was developed through the Queensland Indigenous Artist Public Art Commission with the generous support from the Queensland Government, the Neilson Foundation and Cathryn Mittelheuser, AM, through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation.
(from a press release)