Ruth Watson

Multi-media artist with a transdisciplinary practice including video, photography, installation, painting and sculpture. Often known for working with cartography since the 1980s as a basis for artworks. She writes occasionally about art and maps.

"The final section of the film considers the nature of attachment to the Earth. The narrator challenges the Buddhist notion that procreation increases attachment to the Earth by considering Hugh of St Victor’s maxim: ‘He is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign land.’ This benign non-belonging seems to advocate something similar to the unmapping work that Watson is engaged in. Placing the video’s perspective tangentially to the direct entanglements of nation, family or possession doesn’t imply a lack of care or involvement, but more a fluidity of perspective that is appropriate to our times and necessary to our earthly prospects too.”

– Josephine Berry, extract from catalogue essay 'Many Hands: Ruth Watson’s Unmapping the world' in Geophagy: Ruth Watson (2018).

Ruth Watson painting by Chelsea Twiss.

Selected Exhibitions

Remembering the future, Faculty of Science, University of Auckland


Unmapping the world, part of Geophagy, CoCA Toi Moroki, Christchurch
Unmapping the world, part of Geophagy, Gus Fisher Gallery, Auckland


The surface of things, part of Open Day exhibition, Headlands Centre for the Arts, California

Intangible Cartographies, part of Other Waters: Art on the Manukau, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Auckland

place on earth, Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Canberra


Planetarium, Artspace Aoteaora, Auckland  

Awards & residencies

Wellington Sculpture Trust 4 Plinths Sculpture Award (2017)
Headlands Centre for the Arts, California (2015)
Fulbright-Wallace Art Award (2014)
Asialink Australia Visual Arts Residency, India (1995)
Australia Council Award: New Work (1999-2000)
Residency at Kunst-Werke Berlin (1993-95)
Queen Elizabeth II Visual Arts Fellowship (1994).