Canberra, ACT, Australia
ARTISTS Judy Watson, Tapich Gloria Fletcher, Vic McGrath
CLIENT National Capital Authority
CURATORIAL Positive Solutions
DESIGN UAP Studio
CONSTRUCTION UAP Workshop
Reconciliation Place is located along the central axis stretching between Mount Ainslie and Australia’s New Parliament House.
The Australian government commissioned works from three leading aboriginal artists to be installed in Reconciliation Place as part of a continuous effort to improve Indigenous relations. Each installation incorporates elements of Indigenous heritage, folklore and hope.
Judy Watson’s Fire and Water artwork creates an evocative experience that saturates the senses and establishes a strong sense of place. Watson uses a series of sculptural elements, ephemeral water devices, floor inlays plantings and striking like ‘bower’ like screens to initiate the journey into Reconciliation Place.
Tapich’s Kwi’ith (Man and Woman) uses oversized Yams to represent the earth coming together and sharing. The artwork is complemented by text providing a secondary interpretative level about Reconciliation.
Vic McGrath's Methalu Tharri references wind billowed sails that navigate the viewer through the process of Reconciliation.
Indigenous Australian artist Judy Watson explores issues of heritage, identity and isolation in her public works. She has won national and international recognition for her work including an invitation to the 1997 Venice Biennale. In 2006, Watson was one of eight Indigenous artists who were commissioned to make work for the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris. Watson’s work can be found in major International collections including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Taipei Fine Arts Museum, China; St. Louis Art Museum, USA; and The British Museum, London. Judy Watson has received significant public art commissions in Australia for the Brisbane Magistrates Court (2003), the Melbourne Victorian County Court (2002), Sydney International Airport (2000), and the Melbourne Museum (1999).
Tapich Gloria Fletcher (1937-2011) was one of Australia's leading ceramicists. Her works express an intricate relationship with her land and its creatures, as well as with the elements of earth, fire and water. Tapich created several significant public artworks at various sites around Australia, including at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.
Vic McGrath, born on Waibene (Thursday Island), is a self-taught artist who learnt about scrimshaw and shell carving from traditional craftsmen. His work continues the Torres Strait tradition of carving pearl shell, turtle shell, black coral and dugong tusks, their surfaces etched with images of marine and terrestrial wildlife as well as more stylised design work. He has been involved in a wide range of cultural and environmental research and projects, including as Manager of the Gab Titui Cultural Centre, Thursday Island. He has curated an Indigenous art exhibition in Washington DC, where he also lectured on Torres Strait art at the Smithsonian Institute.
National Gallery of Australia