Jude Roberts responds to landscapes that lie beneath the earth’s surface and layers. Recently her investigative drawing and print practice has revealed a personal understanding to the groundwater of the Great Artesian Basin and watersheds of Western Queensland. The vastness of these hidden waters is yet to be fully realised, and these ancient structures can be used to unfold a new set of challenges in drawing. Stephanie Radok proclaims that there is space for multiple layers of myths from different narratives and drawing on water is a way to reconsider a “new phase in Australian art about the land”. (Radok 2001) Through the physical act of mark making and immersing herself in the various sites Jude experiments with strategies of drawing to reveal something of the hidden interrelationships of land/water systems in Australia that we cannot visibly experience. By their very nature, these water systems are challenging to visualise, often making them difficult to understand scientifically, yet people interact with them and have done so for generations. Jude uses drawing and print methods that incorporate forms of chance which link ideas to unknown or at least unlooked-for meanings. Collaborating with land and water and other outside conditions are instrumental elements to these processes.
Her contemporary approach considers the social use of the site as a continuing narrative of which the artist is another part. As a result of this, she has been part of common goal projects and collaborations such as One River (2012), Bimblebox arts project (2013) and a print exchange Mythscapes in the Watery Realm, (2014). In 2013, Jude participated in the World Water Day Symposium, 2013, based at QCA Project Gallery, Griffith University, Southbank but presented on the banks of the Maranoa River through the digital platform. For more information on Re-imagining the art-science interface in the watery realm, see Water-wheel website. Also in 2013 as part of the One River project, she spoke on a panel about her project, Unravelling the Maranoa in Critical Undercurrents - a One River symposium, at the National Museum Australia, Canberra. This event coincided with the exhibition of 10 arts projects across 10 communities on the Murray Darling System, at the Belconnen Arts Centre, Canberra. Her work has also been represented at Crane Arts, Philadelphia, and Regional gallery spaces across Australia.
Jude’s work is about locating a holistic understanding of the landscape through drawing and being being immersed in the ever-changing country of which water is inextricably connected. As we can never fully visualise the groundwater bodies and their connections, we have to rely on our own personal and intangible perceptions of a place. Her research in drawing is contributing to the continuing narrative of groundwater by enabling a new response to land and water.