Ruth Watson

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1962


  • On loan from the Olivia Spencer Bower Foundation Award Collection
  • Enamel on board with wood
  • 400 x 400 x 70mm
  • L01/2002.a-e
  • 1992

By taking familiar objects - such as letters from a Scrabble board - and re-creating them on a large scale in an art gallery, Ruth Watson interrupts our easy understanding of what we are seeing and invites us to consider other possibilities and associations. The title of this work is a shortened form of the Latin expression ‘Ad Infinitum’ - meaning ‘without limit, forever’.

Winning or losing in Scrabble depends not only on which letters are dealt, but also on how they are used. Certain letters and words are given a higher value than others, which reinforces the idea that language is a tool for power.

Ruth Watson was born in Canterbury in 1962. She has a Masters in Visual Arts from Sydney College of the Arts and a PhD from the Australian National University. She has worked with photography, sculpture, painting and installation art, exhibiting both in New Zealand and internationally. Recent exhibitions include the Myriad Worlds at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery’s Big Wall (2011), Unnerved: The New Zealand Project Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (2010) and Better Places at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (2008). She teaches at the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland.