Carolyn V Watson
July 19 - August 3 2014
At once both intensely personal and universal in their implication, ten intimately small, painted works and three remarkable sculptures express Carolyn V Watson’s endeavour to elicit “moments of empathy” through a visual and “poetic triggering.”
The title of Watson’s new body of work was derived from an ABC radio interview with Joan Bruett, author of Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World. In her book one group thrived under assertive direction. The term ‘survivor maths’ describes the strategy taken by an opposite group who were constantly looking to improve their stance as individuals in the human chain. Typically, Watson has fused the words to articulate the evolutionary process of her art making.
“The same thing never works twice,” states Watson. “Survivormaths demonstrates the idea of constantly reassessing your position, your purpose, your worth. It’s about growth; the organic, the visceral gut intuition versus the analytical, the calculated and detached evaluation at a clear distance. It references action consequence and arbitrary rules, the need to run to outwit a crumbling, constructed history; the voids and the space we fill; a breathing backward.”
Inescapably compelling in their occupation of real space, Watson’s sculptures communicate with anthropomorphic intent her deeply philosophical musings. There is something disturbing, deliberately so, in their strange corporeality. It is as if we are in the presence of something ancient and conjured from primordial depths. “The sculptures express the intangible,” she explains. “They are like silent ventriloquist dummies acting out my thoughts and concerns without fear of reprisal… they become the armour, the scouts that are sent out.”
Set on very long and spindly metal legs the sculpture Dreambrother portrays two crows in symbiotic relationship. A metronome-like gentle swaying is activated by the slightest touch. “This movement is incredibly important,” stresses Watson. “Soothing, gentle, it is a rocking that nurses and softens the starkness of the structure.” Assembled from buffalo and springbok horns the head of the larger crow projects out into the material world, protected but unseeing behind its hard shell. At a junction of body and leg an amber substance teeming with curious globules is oozing. “A likeable ooze,” insists Watson, “variously representing thoughts, barnacles, ova, honeycomb, residue - the things left unsaid.” The tiny ‘alter ego’ crow perched alongside clasps a single, detached globule. Its head has been fashioned from an actual crow’s skull. “He is the Dreambrother - the one who pushes, the one who prompts words into action, the one who carries the third eye,” says Watson, and then enigmatically adds, “Look in the back of the skull.”
The painted works each consist of two separated panels. Tracings of collaged imagery from her “collection of internet trawls, visual diary discards and stark memory scars” are transferred onto primed boards that exude the merest hint of a flesh coloured tone. The markings are fused into the surface and then the painting begins using a Payne’s Grey pigment. “This colour and the images are like veins - the ever so fragile nerve endings representing the analytical and deeply considered - these are the brains to the wrestling bodies of my sculptures.”
Watson tells that the addition of a companion panel was to prevent the figurative imagery from appearing too illustrative and to “offer a gravitas”. “It was also a means to anchor the fragility of the image above,” she furthers. “The solid block of Payne’s Grey came to signify on a condensed scale: the unknowing; what lies beneath.” To achieve the Rothko-like depth of abstraction she’d been “hoping and hunting for” Watson scuffed the solid colour with sandpaper offcuts. The outcome was one that “provided a sound track to the conversation above.” The small space between the two panels is an intentional, finger-width in size, symbolising “the ever present, physical essence of the maker.” The framing of the works is also integral to their context in that it “contains the space, adds a sculptural component and renders the image as a mounted specimen - think bugs in a box, or a solid box to wrestle in.”
Carolyn V Watson is currently a tutor of Sculpture and Contemporary Watercolour at the Brisbane Institute of Art. She was awarded $15,000 First Prize in Life Art Worldwide International Award 2013 and won the Peoples Choice Award, The Artist Revealed Christmas Exhibition, APA 2013. Watson was a Finalist in the Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Prize 2012; John Fries Memorial Art Prize 2012; Marie Ellis OAM Drawing Prize 2012, 2011 (Honourable Mention) 2010; Wilson Visual Art Award 2012; Prometheus Visual Art Award 2011, 2009; Moreton Bay Regional Art Awards 2D 2011; Moreton Bay Regional Art Awards 3D 2011; Winner Acquisition Prize, Agendo Art Award 2009; Finalist Churchie National Emerging Art Prize 2008; Third Place, Printmaking-Brookfield Art Prize 2007; Finalist, Noosa Regional Art Awards 2006; Highly Commended UQ Art Prize 1998. She is a QCA Alumni.
The exhibition 'Carolyn V Watson - survivormaths' is showing at Anthea Polson Art, Shop 120 Mariners Cove, Seaworld Drive Main Beach QLD 4217 (next to Marina Mirage), from July 19 - August 3 2014