Albert Namatjira (28 July 1902 – 8 August 1959), born Elea Namatjira, was one of Australia's most acclaimed visual artists. Events 1540 - Thomas Cromwell is executed at the order of Henry VIII of England on charges of Treason. Year 1902 ( MCMII) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common year starting Events 1220 - Sweden is defeated by Estonian tribes in the Battle of Lihula. The year 1959 ( MCMLIX) was a Common year starting on Thursday (link will display full calendar of the Gregorian calendar. For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Australia topics. The visual arts are art forms that focus on the creation of works which are primarily Visual in nature such as Painting, Photography He was a Western Arrernte man, an Indigenous Australian of the Western MacDonnell Ranges area. Western Arrernte refers to Arrernte (pronounced aRUNda people who traditionally live in Arrernte lands west of Alice Springs, out as far as Mutitjulu and Indigenous Australians are descendants of the first known human inhabitants of the Australian continent and its nearby islands. The MacDonnell Ranges of the Northern Territory, are a 644 km (400 mile long series of mountain ranges located in the centre of Australia ( and consist of parallel Albert Namatjira is one of Australia's great artists, and perhaps the best known Aboriginal painter.
Though in his early career, his use of artwork that he painted a wide variety of subjects, he is best known for his watercolour Australian outback desert landscapes, a style which inspired the Hermannsburg School of Aboriginal art. Watercolor ( US) or Watercolour ( UK) (and "aquarelle" in French is a Painting method For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Australia topics. Outback or the Outback refers to remote arid areas of Australia, although the term colloquially can refer to any lands outside of the main Urban areas The Hermannsburg School is an art movement or art style which began at the Hermannsburg Mission in the 1930s Indigenous Australian art is art produced by Indigenous Australians, covering works that pre-date European colonization as well as Contemporary art While his work is obviously the product of his life and experiences, his paintings are not in the highly symbolic style of traditional Aboriginal art; they are richly detailed depictions. Indigenous Australian art is art produced by Indigenous Australians, covering works that pre-date European colonization as well as Contemporary art He is also notable for being the first Northern Territory Aborigine to be granted Australian citizenship in the sense of being freed from the restrictions of discriminatory legislation that made Aborigines wards of the State. For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Australia topics.
Born at Hermannsburg Lutheran Mission, Northern Territory, near Alice Springs in 1902, he was raised on the Hermannsburg Mission and baptised after his parents' adoption of Christianity. Alice Springs is the second largest town in the Northern Territory of Australia. Christianity ( Greek Χριστιανισμός from the word Xριστός ( Christ)is a monotheistic Religion centered on the life and teachings After a western style upbringing on the mission, at the age of 16, Namatjira returned to the bush for initiation and was exposed to traditional culture as a member of the Arrernte community (which he was to eventually become an elder within). He obtained the love and respect of his land that is seen in his works. After he returned, he married his wife Rubina at the age of 18. His wife, like his father's wife, was from the wrong "skin" group and he violated the law of his people by marrying outside the classificatory kinship system. He was ostracised for several years in which he worked as a camel driver and saw much of Central Australia, which he was later to depict in his paintings. Central Australia/Alice Springs Region is one of the five regions in the Northern Territory.
Although doing a small amount of rough but non-traditional artwork in his youth, he was introduced to western style painting through an exhibition by two painters from Melbourne at his mission in 1934. Melbourne ( is the second most populous city in Australia, with a Metropolitan area population of approximately 3 Year 1934 ( MCMXXXIV) was a Common year starting on Monday (link will display full 1934 calendar of the Gregorian calendar. One of these painters, Rex Battarbee, returned to the area in the winter of 1936 to paint the landscape and Albert acted as a guide to show him local scenic areas. In return Albert was shown how to paint with watercolours, a skill that he quickly excelled at. While he first started with crayons, he quickly progressed onto watercolours and Battarbee soon realised Albert's true potential.
Albert Namatjira started painting in a distinctly unique style. His landscapes normally highlighted both the rugged geological features of the land in the background, and the distinctive Australian flora in the foreground with very old stately and majestic white gum trees surrounded by twisted scrub. His work had a high quality of illumination showing the gashes of the land and the twists in the trees in a breathtaking manner. His colours were similar to the ochres that his ancestors had used to show the same landscape, but his style was appreciated by Europeans because it met the aesthetics of western art.
In 1938 his first exhibition was held in Melbourne and sold out. Year 1938 ( MCMXXXVIII) was a Common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar. Melbourne ( is the second most populous city in Australia, with a Metropolitan area population of approximately 3 Subsequent exhibitions in Sydney and Adelaide also sold out. Sydney (ˈsɪdniː is the most populous city in Australia, with a Metropolitan area population of approximately 4 Adelaide is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of South Australia, and is the fifth largest city in Australia with a For ten years Namatjira continued to paint, his works continuing to sell quickly and his popularity continuing to rise. Queen Elizabeth II became one of his more notable fans and he was awarded the Queen's Coronation medal in 1953 and met her in Canberra in 1954. For the ship see RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Context States headed by Elizabeth II Canberra ( is the capital city of Australia With a population of over 340000 it is Australia's largest inland City. Year 1954 ( MCMLIV) was a Common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1954 Gregorian calendar) Not only did his own art become wildly recognized, but even a painting of him by William Dargie won the Archibald Prize in 1956. Sir William Alexander Dargie CBE ( June 4, 1912 &ndash July 26, 2003) was an Australian painter, known especially The Archibald Prize is regarded as the most important Portraiture prize and is the most prominent of all arts prizes in Australia. Year 1956 ( MCMLVI) was a Leap year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar of the Gregorian calendar. He became popular, critically acclaimed and wealthy. He, however, was always glad to return to the outback.
Namatjira's artworks were colourful and varied depictions of the Australian landscape. One of his first landscapes from 1936, Central Australian Landscape, shows a land of rolling green hills. Another early work, Ajantzi Waterhole (1937), shows a close up view of a small waterhole, with Albert capturing the reflection in the water beautifully well. The landscape becomes one of contrasting colours, a device that is often used by Western painters, with red hills and green trees in Red Bluff (1938). Central Australian Gorge (1940) shows detailed rendering of rocks and reflections in the water. In Flowering Shrubs he contrasts the blossoming flowers in the foreground with the more barren desert and cliffs in the background. Namatjira's love of trees was often described so that his paintings of trees were more portraits than landscapes, which is shown in the portrait of the often depicted ghost gum in Ghost Gum Glen Helen (c. Corymbia aparrerinja (syn Eucalyptus papuana var aparrerinja) commonly known as Ghost Gum, is an evergreen tree that is native to 1945-49). His skills at colouring trees can be seen clearly in this portrait and Namatjira was fully aware of his own talent, as when describing another landscape painter Namatjira said to William Dargie.
"He does not know how to make the side of a tree which is in the light look the same colour as the side of the tree in shadow. . . I know how to do better. "
His skills kept increasing with experience as is shown in the highly photographic quality of Mt Hermannsburg (1957), painted only two years before he died.
Due to his wealth, Namatjira soon found himself the subject of "humbugging", a ritualised form of begging. Arrernte are expected to share everything they own, and as Namatjira's income grew, so did his extended family. At one time he was single-handedly providing for over six hundred people. To ease the burden on his straining resources, Namatjira sought to lease a cattle station to benefit his extended family. Originally granted, the lease was subsequently rejected because the land was part of a returned servicemen's ballot, and also because he had no ancestral claim on the property. He then tried to build a house in Alice Springs, but was cheated in his land dealings. The land he was sold was on a flood plain and was unsuitable for building. The Minister for Territories, Paul Hasluck, offered him free land in a reserve on the outskirts of Alice Springs, but this was rejected, and Albert and his family took up residence in a squalid shanty at Morris Soak -- a dry creek bed some distance from Alice Springs. Despite the fact that he was held as one of Australia's greatest artists he was living in abject poverty. His plight became a media cause celebre, resulting in a wave of public outrage.
The government granted Albert and his wife Australian citizenship in 1957, in the sense of exempting them from the restrictive legislation that applied only to Aborigines. Year 1957 ( MCMLVII) was a Common year starting on Tuesday (link displays the 1957 Gregorian calendar) This entitled them to vote, own land, build a house and buy alcohol. In Chemistry, an alcohol is any Organic compound in which a Hydroxyl group ( - O[[hydrogen H]]) is bound to a Carbon Although Albert and Rubina were legally allowed to drink alcohol, his Aboriginal family and friends were still Wards of the State, and were not. The nomadic Arrernte culture expected him to share everything he owned, even after they ceased being nomads. It was this contradiction that was to bring Namatjira into conflict with the white man's law.
When an Aboriginal woman Fay Iowa was killed at Morris Soak, Namatjira was held responsible by Jim Lemaire the Stipendiary Magistrate for bringing alcohol into the camp. He was reprimanded at the coronial inquest. It was against the law for an Australian citizen to supply alcohol to a native. Albert was charged with leaving a bottle of rum in a place i. e. on a car seat where a native, a clan brother and fellow Hermannsburg artist Henoch Raberaba, could get access to it. He was sentenced to six months in prison for supplying an Aboriginal with liquor. After a public uproar the Minister for Territories, Paul Hasluck intervened and the sentence was served at Papunya Native Reserve. He was released after only serving two months due to medical and humanitarian reasons.
Despondent after his incarceration, he continued to live with Rubina in a cottage at Papunya, where he suffered a heart attack. There is evidence that Albert believed that he had the bone pointed at him by a member of Fay Iowa's family. That Albert was being "sung" to death was also held by Frank Clune, a popular travel writer, aboriginal activist, and organiser of Albert's whirlwind 1956 trip.
After being transferred to Alice Springs hospital, Namatjira astonished his mentor Rex Battarbee by presenting him with three of the best landscapes he ever painted, with a promise of more to come; a promise unrealised. He died soon after of heart disease complicated by pneumonia on September 8, 1959 in Alice Springs, only two years after he was granted citizenship.
At the time of his death Namatjira had painted a total of around two thousand paintings and had two short biographical films made about him. His unique style of painting however was denounced soon after his death by many indigenous art puritans as being a product of his assimilation into western culture, rather than his own connection to his subject matter or his natural style. This view, although still present in some critics thoughts, has been largely abandoned and Albert Namatjira is hailed as one of the greatest Australian artists of all time and a pioneer for Aboriginal rights.
Namatjira's work is on public display in some of Australia's major art galleries, with some noteworthy exceptions. The Art Gallery of NSW rejected Namatjira's work. In the words of Hal Missingham, the then Director of the gallery: "We'll consider his work when it comes up to scratch".
Albert Namatjira is the subject of a song of the same name by the Australian band Not Drowning, Waving, included on their 1993 album, Circus. Not Drowning Waving were a musical group formed in Melbourne, Australia in 1983 (though they first performed as a group in 1984 by David Bridie and John He is also referenced in Midnight Oil's song, Truganani, We Are Australian and in Archie Roach's song, Native Born. Midnight Oil was an Australian rock band from Sydney, Australia Truganani is a song by Australian band Midnight Oil, from their album Earth and Sun and Moon. Archie Roach (born 1956 Mooroopna, Victoria) is an Australian Musician.
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Namatjira, Elea|
|SHORT DESCRIPTION||Australian painter|
|DATE OF BIRTH||28 July 1902|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Hermannsburg, Northern Territory|
|DATE OF DEATH||8 August 1959|
|PLACE OF DEATH||Alice Springs, Northern Territory|