Jenny Watson

Up Close and From Afar

Their subjects and materials may span continents, but Jenny Watson’s paintings on fabric are underwritten by a faithfulness to a suburban Australian identity, yearning and sense of self.

By Nadia Mohamad JUL 2015

Even before speaking with Jenny Watson, you get the impression that she is someone who does things her own way. Born in Melbourne and now based in Queensland, Watson spent a significant time in Europe in the 1980s before garnering acclaim and success in Germany in 1990. Part of her success may have come down to timing and luck – and certainly the work itself – but credit should probably also be given to the fact that she was a young female artist who took matters into her own hands to show the European art world what she had to offer.

Watson’s body of work is powerful, personal and filled with a brand of symbolism that is now synonymous with her name. While her style and aesthetic may have evolved over the years, the crux of her work remains both as Australian and as universal as ever. Her recent exhibition at Anna Schwartz Gallery in Melbourne, Fabrications, was a culmination of a residency in the small town of Marnay-sur-Seine, 200 kilometres east of Paris, and features further investigations into the use of fabric. VAULT spoke with Watson about her early success, recent work and ongoing concerns.

How did you split your time between Australia and Europe back in the 1980s and 1990s?
When I decided to pursue the work, I realised that I would have to travel a lot, so I thought I might as well enjoy it and make it part of the work. My first break was in Frankfurt, Germany, which is considered to be possibly the toughest market. I found ... Subscribe to read this article in full

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