3 November to 3 December 2022

Goodnight Air

Amy Joy Watson has an interest in fermenting and making water kefir. The drink is zesty and bubbly, and it takes its flavour from the ingredients added in the multiple brewing stages. The process is labour intensive and time consuming and subtle variations occur depending upon the time it is left to sit. Similarly, her new works have been bubbling away, slowly changing over time and morphing with her handiwork.

Watson’s golden, two dimensional surfaces change in front of the viewer as they catch the light: landscapes made of gold and metallic threads and drippy watercolour paint. 

There are three works on brass mesh that, materially, are a departure from her previous works on balsa wood, though they share a similar visual language. The largest of which has an interesting story- she describes, “A large roll of brass mesh had been water damaged from sitting in my studio for years and water leaked on it slowly, tarnishing it. The tarnished patterns were even more beautiful than the pristine mesh so I decided to tarnish with acids further, and to paint the watery scene. I then weave through it with only gold thread around the tarnish, not hiding, but highlighting it...There is beauty in knowing and showing your scars.”

The process of stitching, slowly, and methodically and working with the inherent qualities of the mesh have allowed Watson to ruminate upon a challenging 18 months. She reflects that “The birth of my daughter triggered acute insomnia and anxiety. It was during my recovery that I completed this body of work, spending many hours (some that I should have spent sleeping), stitching streams or splashes of water and also envisioning it through my meditation process.”

For Amy, water is an element that grounds her. The two smaller embroideries on paper depict calm flowing, watery landscapes. “Perhaps a reflection upon when I felt more in control of my breath” she says. And many nights, Amy and her daughter would say “Goodnight air”, when reading from the 1950’s picture book Goodnight Moon. Her hand stitching encapsulates the rhythm of her breath, her craft a healing tonic to her recent lived experiences.

Written by Nikki Anderson

Nikki Anderson completed a Visual Arts (hons) at Adelaide Central School of Art in 2007, and a Masters Degree in Art Curatorship at Melbourne University in 2011. She has worked in museums and galleries across Australia and Europe, including Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, and was Curatorial Assistant at the Dax Centre, Melbourne, where she developed an interest in the intersection between contemporary art and mental health.