Jenny Watson The Fabric of Fantasy

Jenny Watson
4 November 2017 4 March 2018
Heide Galleries
Anna Davis (Museum of Contemporary Art Australia)
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Adult $18
Concession $14
Children under 12 FREE
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Jenny Watson is a leading Australian artist whose conceptual painting practice spans more than four decades. Curated by MCA Curator Anna Davis this survey exhibition features works from the 1970s to the present, including examples of Watson’s early realist paintings and drawings, and a number of key series of works on fabric.

“A vital Australian artist” The Saturday Paper

Inspired by both punk and feminism, Watson’s work uses distilled imagery and abbreviated text to create an intimate interior world. She has travelled widely since the 1970s and employs textiles collected on her travels as the surface for many of her paintings, which also often include collaged materials such as images from magazines, horse’s hair, ribbons, bows and sequins. Many of Watson’s works feature self-portraits and alter egos, a cast of longhaired women, horses, ballerinas, rock guitarists and cats, who enact life’s ongoing psychodramas.

Intertwining autobiography and fiction, her work incorporates a diary-like voice that is delivered with deadpan wit and seems to relay the everyday experiences, dreams and desires of a self-proclaimed suburban girl. The relationship between text and image is central to her work, which frequently includes a small panel of hand painted text that sits alongside a larger image, undercutting or changing its meaning.



Listen back to our recorded art talks with artists, curators and guest speakers.

Art Talk with art historian, writer and curator Dr Chris McAuliffe recorded on 18 November 2017. An exploration of suburban motifs and urban territories in Jenny Watson’s work.

Art Talk with Jenny Watson and Australian rock icons Mick Harvey and Dave Graney recorded on 18 February 2018. A discussion on the Melbourne punk music scene of the late 1970s and how it influenced Jenny’s work.

Spotify Playlist

Soundtrack your exhibition experience with some of the tunes that have inspired Jenny Watson across her career. Perfect for before, during or after your visit.

Play now

Jenny Watson, Rock Star (detail) 2014, oil, synthetic polymer paint and Japanese pigment on rabbit-skin-glue-primed damask; found toy, Courtesy the artist and Galerie Transit, Mechelen, © the artist


The Fabric of Fantasy Horses, Nick Cave and naive simplicity – Jenny Watson’s 40-year career in playful line and colour, at Heide.
Will Cox, Broadsheet Melbourne, 12 February 2018

Jenny Watson: The Fabric of Fantasy at Heide Museum of Modern Art
Chelsea Hopper, Memo Review, 18 November 2017

Retrospective of Jenny Watson's primitive style strikes a chord
Kerrie O'Brien, The Age, 10 November 2017

Jenny Watson: The Fabric of Fantasy
Steve Dow, Art Guide Australia, 1 November 2017

Jenny Watson: suburban girl to feminist punk
Books and Arts, ABC Radio National, 1 September 2017

Jenny Watson’s ‘The Fabric of Fantasy’
Patrick Hartigan, The Saturday Paper

A maverick on fabric: the strange, unconventional art of Jenny Watson
Sasha Grishin, The Conversation

Exhibition organised by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
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