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Judy Napangardi Watson

Judy Napangardi Watson

Judy Napangardi Watson

1925 - 2016

Judy Watson Napangardi

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PROFILE

Judy Napangardi Watson

1925 - 2016

Born on Mt. Doreen Station, north-west of Alice Springs circa 1925, Judy Watson grew up in the vast Warlpiri country that lies between the Tanami and Gibson deserts. 


Her traditional nomadic life came to an end, however, when the Warlpiri were forced to live in the new government settlement at Yuendumu.


Years later, following the birth of her ten children amid great struggles living under European

colonisation, the influence of those early years in the land of her ancestors burst forth in her art.

Her principal focus was the women’s Dreaming of the Karnta-kurlangu – a large number of ancestral

women who danced across the land, creating important sites, discovering plants, foods, and medicines, as well as establishing the ceremonies that would perpetuate their generative powers.


At Mina Mina, these ancestral women danced and performed ceremonies before traveling on to Janyinki and other sites as they moved east toward Alcoota. During their ritual dancing, digging sticks rose up out of the ground and the women carried these implements with them on their long journey east, singing and dancing all the way without rest. 


The hairstring is anointed with red ochre and is a secret and sacred connection between the women’s ceremony and the country, which enables them to connect with the spirit of the Dreaming. At Mina Mina, these ancestral women danced and performed ceremonies before traveling to Janyinki and other sites as they moved east toward Alcoota. During their ritual dancing, digging sticks rose up out of the ground and the women carried these implements with them on their long journey east singing and dancing all the way, with no sleep.

ARTIST CV
Market Analysis
MARKET ANALYSIS 

During the late 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century,  the rising interest in works by Watson on the secondary market was nothing short of phenomenal. 


By 2010 her status amongst the most important artists of the movement was matched only by the careers of Tommy Watson and Paddy Bedford. Every one of her ten highest results and in fact of her top 20 were set after 2006. There were two main reasons for this. The splendid use of her Hair String image on the cover of the catalogue for the National Gallery of Victoria’s Colour Power exhibition held during 2004, and her ability to create large, highly colour charged, dynamic works. While 2019 saw Judy Watson Napangardi's highest ever sale result ($220,909), few works of real quality appeared for sale in the secondary market during the previous decade. 


Her works first appeared at auction in 1994, yet with a slow and steady rise in secondary market sales, Judy Watson Napangardi climbed to 32nd place in the list of all indignous artists by 2009 as she leapfrogged Naata Nungurayi, Kathleen Petyarre, and Freddie Timms amongst the ranks of living artists. With relatively few works achiving high prices since that time she had fallen back to 43rd place by 2020. 


Her Magnum Opus, Women’s Dreaming created for Peter Van Groessen in 1995, which had been held by Kimberley Art Gallery in Melbourne until first offered at auction in 2006, and again in 2008 and again most recently in 2019, each sale becoming her highest recorded sale at auction.  Her top 10 auction sales of all time consist of only 4 different paintings, sold multiple times, Women's Draming, Snake Vine 1995,  Mina Mina, Hair String Story 2004, and My Dreaming 2007, each work selling for a significant appreciation.  


Her total second art market sales stood at just $38,332 in 2004 compared to today’s $1,454,019. With such exposure in the secondary market it is little wonder that there has been a definite buzz around Judy Watson’s work in primary galleries. This has been stimulated further by the entry of a number of independent dealers with their minds firmly set on investment paintings. 


Geoff Henderson, owner of Aboriginal Art World, is a perfect example. Judy Watson Napangardi was an irrepressibly energetic artist who produced dynamic joyful works full of colour. Her shimmering canvases emulate the Warlpiri notion that health, well-being, and allure are exemplified by the glint of refracted brightness. Her paintings convey ancient stories with a modern sensibility. This will ensure that they stand amongst the most desirable of all contemporary Australian art well into the future and continue to propel her into the most select group of Aboriginal painters of all time.

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