Posted on February 19, 2010 - by sophia
Albert Namatjira is Australia’s most famous Indigenous watercolour artist but his story is hardly known.
Here are some quick facts…
- Albert was among the first Indigenous people to become an Australian citizen at a time when Indigenous people were still categorised as flora and fauna?
- Albert was arrested for supplying alcohol to â€˜Indigenous people, who were in fact his relatives?
- Albert met Queen Elizabeth, after being awarded the Queen’s Coronation Medal, in Canberra in 1954?
- Albert was the first Indigenous person to be listed in Who’s Who in Australia?
Albert’s life story provides a valuable insight, not only into Australia’s history, but into our modern-day relations with Indigenous people.
Albert Namatjira grew up at the Lutheran Mission in Hermannsburg, 120km west of Alice Springs. It was there in the mid-1930’s that he was exposed to western watercolour painting under instruction from Rex Battarbee. Albert learnt quickly, and impressed those in the art world around him. In 1938 he held his first solo exhibition, signing his works with his full name for the first time, and selling out in 3 days.
From then on, his works were exhibited prominently around the country, presented to the Queen and many dignitaries, and his exhibitions sold out before they even opened. Albert took on the role of educator to his family and community, teaching watercolour techniques to his sons, particularly Oscar, Keith, Ewald, Enos and Maurice, and to his cousins and community, including the Pareroultja’s, Pannka’s, Rubuntja’s, Abbott’s and Wirri’s. Before long, the central desert watercolour tradition had become prolific.
This generation then passed on the tradition to their sons and daughters, who in turn have passed it on to their sons and daughters. This third generation of watercolour artists are an integral part of the Namatjira project and are featured in the Namatjira project’s exhibition.
Learn more about his life, legacy, inspiration and international impact by listening to songs and reading poetry about Albert, and exploring links to other websites.
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