The title comes from newspaper reports of red algae blooms appearing in Sydney Harbour because of too much nitrogen in the water. Watson associated the deadly red blooms with whaling and the sites of Aboriginal massacres where the waters turned red with blood. The work was created for the 1997 Biennale in Venice, another water city where the 'sound of the water is everywhere, especially at high tide, you can hear the waves against the buildings, licking history away'. Her work is about 'memories washing over me', whether the tidal flow of stories from her grandmother's country in Queensland or the history of her Sydney Harbour home - the recurring wash of private and public memory.
Peter Emmett, 'Sydney: metropolis, suburb, harbour', 2000
Kids audio tour red tides
pigment and pastel on canvas
186.0 x 120.0 cm
Mollie Gowing Acquisition Fund for Contemporary Aboriginal Art 1999
© Judy Watson. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney
Where the work was made
Shown in 5 exhibitions
Fluent, La Biennale di Venezia 1997, Australia:
- La Biennale di Venezia, Venice 15 Jun 1997–09 Nov 1997
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 20 Dec 1997–15 Feb 1998
- Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra 13 Mar 1998–03 May 1998
- Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, South Bank 05 Jun 1998–05 Jul 1998
- Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart 17 Jul 1998–06 Aug 1998
- Tandanya, Adelaide 26 Aug 1998–08 Nov 1998
- Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth 20 Nov 1998–31 Jan 1999
Harbour, Museum of Sydney, Sydney, 05 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000
sacred ground beating heart: works by Judy Watson 1989 - 2002, John Curtin Gallery, Perth, 26 Sep 2003–09 Nov 2003
The Dreamers (2009-10), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 09 May 2009–15 Aug 2010
Our spirits lie in the water, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Nov 2014–01 Nov 2015
Referenced in 8 publications
Peter Emmett, Sydney: metropolis, suburb, harbour, 'Harbour', pg. 123-124, Glebe, 2000, 141 (colour illus.), 142.
Jennifer Isaacs, Art and Australia (Vol. 39, No. 4), '1970-2001: International exposure of Aboriginal art', pg. 548-557, Sydney, Jun 2002-Aug 2002, 551 (colour illus.).
Michael Lynch and Hetti Perkins, Fluent, La Biennale di Venezia 1997 Australia, Sydney, 1997, (colour illus.), 46. cat. no. 11
Hetti Perkins, Art + soul: a journey into the world of Aboriginal art, 'Home + away', pg. 1-86, Carlton, 2010, 42, 43 (colour illus.), 278.
Hetti Perkins and Margie West, One sun one moon: Aboriginal art in Australia, ‘Judy Watson in conversation’, pg. 304-309, Sydney, 2007, 308 (colour illus.).
Hetti Perkins., Contemporary Aboriginal art: The Mollie Gowing acquisition fund, 'Gifted Contemporary Aboriginal Art: The Mollie Gowing acquisition fund', Sydney, 2006, (colour illus.). not paginated
Ted Snell, sacred ground beating heart: works by Judy Watson 1989 - 2003, Perth, 2003, 47 (colour illus.), 50, 68.
Jill Sykes, Look, 'art + soul: bringing remote cultural riches to a gallery or screen near you', pg. 28-31, Sydney, Sep 2010, 30, 31 (colour illus.).