Albert Namatjira

Following a concerted media and legal campaign, the Namatjira Legacy Trust has succeeded in securing the ownership of the copyright of Albert Namatjira following a recent resolution of claims made by the Trust against the long-time copyright owner Legend Press ...

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You see them driving from Kings Canyon to Alice Springs, the majestic ghost white river gums depicted so faithfully in the paintings of Albert Namatjira. You would think you were looking at a Namatjira painting. And then there is the vista of the craggy hills of the West McDonnell ...

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You see them driving from Kings Canyon to Alice Springs, the majestic ghost white river gums depicted so faithfully in the paintings of Albert Namatjira. You would think you were looking at a Namatjira painting. And then there is the vista of the craggy hills of the West McDonnell Ranges in their mysterious blue hue – a signature feature of Namatjira’s art.

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There was something of the alchemist in Albert Namatjira. Using the most liquescent of media, he created impressions of the driest terrain. Painting in watercolour involves the fluid dispersal of pigment. Yet in Namatjira we find colours distilled in such a way that each landscape glows with a quiet intensity. This evocation of light reveals the influence of Rex Battarbee, who, long before he began to tutor his famous protégé, voiced dissatisfaction with ‘traditional methods’. He developed a painting technique of his own, specifically designed to ‘achieve luminosity’. Like many an inventor, he was cautious about sharing his discovery, in part because he believed that artists should develop on their own terms. But Namatjira was so keen an observer of his then master that he would have realised if Battarbee had withheld information. So Rex decided to teach him everything he knew, both for the sake of Namatjira, whom he clearly adored, and more generally and altruistically ‘for the sake of the Aborigines’.

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