09 October 2006

Cultural Production - Albert Namatjira

Albert Namatjira

1902 - 1959

The first nationally and internationally recognised Aboriginal artist, Albert Namatjira spent most of his life around the Hermannsburg Lutheran Mission, the area of his Traditional Tribal Lands. He was born a full-blooded member of the Western Aranda (Arunta) tribe and was initiated into the sacred tribal ways.

His watercolours portray his home and Dreamtime country of the McDonnell Ranges. Largely self taught in the European watercolour style, he had just a few months tuition by artist Rex Battarbee in return for guiding Battarbee to painting sites in the Ranges.

His paintings were always popular with the public though it was some time before Art Galleries acknowledged his talent. The clash of traditional and European cultures and the lack of standing of Aboriginal people at that time led to many personal and family problems. As was the case with all tribal aborigines at the time, he was legally considered to be a ward of state until 1957 when he was granted Australian Citizenship.

Albert taught many of his relatives to use watercolour paints in the same style. His landscapes capture the essence of the Australian Outback and prints of his work were a popular home decorator item of the 1950’s.

I have chosen to make a plaque using stoneware paper clay and underglazes which I hope will capture the feeling and colours of his works.

Albert Namatjira 1902-1959
A Biographical Sketch
By Andrew Mackenzie; Oz Publishing Brisbane 1988

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