Albert Namatjira / Arrernte people / Australia 1902–59 / Twa-tarra c.1938–39 / Watercolour over pencil on smooth cream wove paper / 22.3 x 37.5cm / Bequest of Cedric Powne 1979 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © Namatjira Legacy Trust/Licensed by Copyright Agency

Albert Namatjira
Twa-tarra c.1938–1939

On Display: QAG, Gallery 2

Albert Namatjira, born in Ntaria (Hermannsburg) in 1902 was first and foremost an Arrernte (Aranda) man, who throughout his life remained deeply committed to the spiritual and philosophical values of his culture. He was first introduced to watercolour painting at the Hermannsburg Mission where he was baptised and educated, when John Gardner and Rex Battarbee staged an exhibition in 1932. Two years later, Namatjira accompanied Battarbee on an eight week painting expedition.

Namatjira was introduced to the Queen, and in 1957 he was the first Aboriginal person to be granted full citizenship, however Namatjira’s acceptance into European society was superficial. During his lifetime, Namatjira was never fully accepted as a serious artist by the art world establishment and the majority of his work was bought by private collectors rather than by museums or art galleries.

The re-evaluation of Namatjira’s status as an artist was made possible in 1984 through the first major retrospective exhibition of his work at the Araluen Arts Centre in Alice Springs, twenty-five years after his death.