Albert Namatjira - Aboriginal Artist

>Albert Namatjira.

Namatjira's Grave
Namatjita's Grave in the Alice Springs Memorial cemetery.

Albert Namatjira was born at Hermannsburg on the 28th of July 1902., an Aranda aboriginal, and married Rubina at Hermannsburg in 1920, the daughter of a Luritja elder.
In 1928 Pastor Friedrich Albrecht was appointed to the Lutheran Mission there and in 1934 invited Alice Springs artists John Gardner and Rex Battarbee to hold an exhibition of their paintings at the mission.
Namatjira was at the time working on leatherwork and poker plaques, using hot metal on mulga wood, and was impressed with what he saw. Albrecht asked Battarbee to send some painting materials to encourage him to begin painting and in 1935 Albert presented his first work 'My First Painting - The Fleeing Kangaroo'.
Battarbee returned to Herrmansburg in 1936 and Namatjira acted as guide on a camek trek where Battarbee taught him some watercolour techniques. In 1937, 10 of his paintings were taken by Pastor Albrecht to the Lutheran Synodical Conference at Nuriootpa in South Australia where 6 were sold.
In the same year, Battarbee included 3 of Namatjira's paintings in an exhibition of his own work in Adelaide. Amongst visitors to the exhibition was artist Hans Heysen who was impressed with the 'freshness' of his work.
In 1938 Namatjira's first exhibition was opened by the Governor's wife, Lady Huntingfield, in Melbourne. Sales netted Namatjira some $300.00, a substantial amount at the time.
Battarbee continued to train and act as mentor to Namatjira from his home and gallery at 'Tmara Mara' in Sturt Terrace, south of Undoolya Rd.
Albert Namatjira passed away in 1959. His principal works today sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars each.
Rubina spent her remaining years at Hermannsburg in a home paid for by royalties from Albert's paintings. Several of his children also achieved fame as artists.

Copyright Peter W. Wilkins