Two Rooms presents an exhibition by Ruth Watson, her first solo exhibition in Auckland for 16 years. Watson returned to NZ last year after spending 12-years abroad in Berlin, Sydney and Canberra.
For over twenty years now, Watson has worked with cartographic ideas and imagery as a major basis for her work. From emerging artist projects such as Planetarium at Artspace in 1989 to work made for Paradise Now? Contemporary Art from the Pacific in 2003, her work has consistently engaged with these concerns, particularly the image of the world.
Watson seeks to present alternative worldviews, often via little known map projections, by engaging with the topic of mapping itself. In her exhibition at Two Rooms, Unsafe Ruth will present a major floor installation constructed from miniature glass balls (the type used for reflection on the roads) along with a related body of drawings that discuss these issues.
In her twelve-year absence from New Zealand Watson’s work was included in several prestigious exhibitions including two Australian Perspecta (national survey) exhibitions, the Tom Sokolowski- curated Lest We Forget, a show of six artists that also included Christian Boltanski and Yasunara Morimura, in New York City, and several shows in Germany including the 1996 major NZ exhibition Cultural Safety: Contemporary Art from New Zealand. Watson has also had over 25 solo exhibitions and was included in the 1992 Sydney Biennale, the 1995 Cheju Korean Biennale, the first Auckland Triennale in 2001, and in 2004 “Telecom Prospect: Recent New Zealand Art”, and two surveys of Australian art: the Sydney-based Australian “Perspecta” in both 1997 and 1999.
Along with the success of Watson’s extensive exhibition history she has been the recipient of several awards, including the Olivia Spencer-Bower Foundation Award in 1992, a Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council Fellowship in 1993, the international 2005 Ristow Prize in cartographic history for a study of the first map of the world to use the term ‘Terra Australis Incognita’. Watson’s artworks are represented in major public collections in New Zealand, including Te Papa Tongarewa and the Auckland City Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki.
Watson has a BFA in Painting from the University of Canterbury (1984), a MVA from Sydney College of the Arts (1999) and a PhD in Fine Arts from the Australian National University, Canberra (2005). She returned to NZ to take up a position as a Lecturer at the Elam School of Fine Arts.