Looking Glass: Judy Watson and Yhonnie Scarce at Latrobe Regional Gallery 19 November 2022 – 26 March 2023

Curated by Hetti Perkins, Looking Glass brings together two of Australia’s contemporary artists Waanyi artist, Judy Watson and Kokatha and Nukunu artist, Yhonnie Scarce. Looking Glass opens on Saturday 19 November at Latrobe Regional Gallery, organised by Ikon (Birmingham, UK) and TarraWarra Museum of Art, toured by NETS Victoria.

Art Exhibition previously on at Zilla & Brook in Australia.
From Saturday 19 November 2022 to Sunday 26 March 2023

Event published by anonymous on Friday 30 September 2022.
Contact the publisher.

Looking Glass is an alchemy of elemental materiality, through paintings, video and sculptural works. Watson’s ochres, charcoal and pigments have a natural affinity and synergy with Scarce’s fusion of fire, earth and air expressing the inseparable oneness of Aboriginal people with Country, a familial relationship established for millennia.

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. Exhibition curator, Hetti Perkins, said the artists are concerned essentially with Australia’s ‘secret war’—a battle fought on many fronts from colonial massacres and Stolen Generations through to the British atomic bomb tests at Maralinga. “The seductive beauty of Watson’s and Scarce’s works belies their powerful message about the sustained campaign of the destruction of Country, culture and community in Aboriginal Australia—their work is a kind of ‘tender trap’. With the devastating evidence of climate change in Australia, manifest in apocalyptic wildfires and storms, this exhibition delivers an urgent message,” Ms Perkins said.

Born in Mundubbera, Queensland, Judy Watson derives inspiration from her Aboriginal matrilineal Waanyi heritage, working from site and memory to reveal Aboriginal histories and following lines of emotional and physical topography that center on particular places and moments in time. Watson explains: “Art as a vehicle for invention and social change can be many things, it can be soft, hard, in-your-face confrontational, or subtle and discreet. I try and choose the latter approach for much of my work, a seductive beautiful exterior with a strong message like a deadly poison dart that insinuates itself into the consciousness of the viewer without them being aware of the package until it implodes and leaks its contents.”

Yhonnie Scarce born in Woomera, South Australia belonging to the Kokatha and Nukunu peoples. Working with glass, she explores the political nature and aesthetic qualities of the material—in particular corresponding to the crystallisation of desert sand as a result of British nuclear tests in Maralinga, South Australia, during 1956-63. The shocking disregard for the safety of local Aboriginal people at the time was symptomatic of the pervasive racism that characterised much of Australian history since European settlement. Scarce’s work in Looking Glass includes Glass Bomb (Blue Danube) Series IV, a hand-blown glass bomb containing individual black and transparent yams. The effect of this contrast delivers corresponding shadows, casting a poignant presence. Scarce speaks to the significance of the reaction between dark glass and bright light: “In my works that are created for these mourning processes, the shadows that come off the glass represent those people who are not spoken for.”

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. 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.

Victoria Lynn Director of TarraWarra Museum of Art says: “Watson and Scarce’s Aboriginal histories underpin their unique yet interrelated evocation of the metaphors of earth, fire, water and air. We are thrilled to be supporting a significant tour of Looking Glass at venues across Australia, working with NETS Victoria.”

TarraWarra Museum of Art, NETS Victoria, the artists and the curator of Looking Glass respectfully acknowledge and celebrate the continuing culture and custodianship of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples on whose lands this exhibition is presented and all communities across Australia.


Latrobe Regional Gallery
138 Commercial Road
Morwell, Victoria 3840