Posted on February 28, 2012 - by sophia
A NOTE FROM SCOTT RANKIN – WRITER/DIRECTOR
Albert Namatjira was both artist and entrepreneur. Born in the bush, he and his family walked into Hermannsburg Mission when Namatjira was two years old. At a time when most Australians hugged the coast in safe suburbs, people were hungry to know the heart of their country and as his art became popular, Albert’s work adorned lounge- rooms like little windows into Central Australia. Albert’s extraordinary popularity helped hasten the 1967 referendum. Albert risked everything by walking between two cultures. On the one hand he earned enough to support 600 members of his extended family; on the other he flirted with fame and individualism, creating new pressures within his community. Much of this new opportunity opened up through the friendship between Albert and Rex Battarbee – the man who taught him to paint. Throughout their relationship they shared many profound passages in each other’s lives, and in their friendship we can glimpse a generous Australia that we’ve foolishly let slip away. Here we had two vibrant traditions, each with their strengths, each able to appreciate, learn from, enjoy and support the other, while respectfully leaving alone – until asked – those things that are of a private realm.
Namatjira is part of a much broader Big hART community project based in Central Australia. This project is large, layered, long-term and designed to leave lasting legacies beyond this touring performance piece. The Namatjira Project runs workshops in Hermannsburg community, helps the older Namatjiras take trips painting on country, is supporting the Hermannsburg Choir and is working to make a difference to the copyright issues surrounding Albert’s work. We hope that with the support of the public and organisations such as the theatres we are touring to, this project will continue to grow and contribute to healing in Hermannsburg and in the broader community.
The success of this project is dependent on the strong foundation formed with both the Namatjira family and Gayle Quamby (Rex Battarbee’s daughter). If this performance piece resonates, it does so because of the generosity of these families in sharing their stories. I’d also like to pay tribute to Trevor Jamieson in our collaborations over many years. It is his remarkable facility for elegant and dexterous storytelling that allows our shows, such as Ngapartji Ngapartji and Nyuntu Ngali to flow with nuanced language. Now, in Namatjira, the discovery of Derik Lynch is enriching this collaboration further.
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Scott Rankin Writer/Director