Sunday, August 28, 2011

Albert Namatjira the first citizen - Namatjira the Show - Big hART - Hermannsburg - Palm Valley - Ngurratjuta Art Centre

I came to know Albert Namatjira some two years ago through the documentary Albert Namajira the First Citizen. Though sad, his life story intrigued me and led me to research on him. Namatjira is representative of Aboriginal Australians' life of the era - perhaps to a great extent today as well. Albert Namatjira is significant not only because he became the first Aborigine to be granted Australian citizenship in 1957 but also because  of the legacy he left behind as a water colour artist. Artist descendants of Namatjira are the evidence to Namatjira heritage. Today most of these artists are living in and around Alice Springs. Nugrratjuta Iltja Ntjarra or Many Hands Art Centre of Alice Springs has become one of a few ethical galleries / art centres who represent most - if not all - of Namtjira legacy artists.

It was through mere coincidence that I met the Big hART mob who later took me to Hermannsburg. Interestingly, remnants of the Lutheran mission where Namatjira grew up still stand there. Something big for many in the community was happening in HermannsburgBig hART's award winning, critically acclaimed, sell out show Namatjira was just about to open in Melbourne at the Malthouse Theatre (on August 10) commencing its 2011 show gig (10 -28 August,  Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne, 1- 4 September,  DRUM Theatre, Dandenong, 8 – 10 September, Geelong Performing Arts Centre, Geelong, 14- 17 September, Canberra Theatre Centre, Canberra, 21 – 24 September, Merrigong Theatre Co., IPAC, Wollongong, 30 September – 1 October, NORPA, Lismore)Hermannsburg was readying to congratulate it with choir singing watched by the audience in Melbourne and in turn watching the show on big screen, facilitated by a dual webcast.  All these events unfolded through the joint efforts of the Hermannsburg community and Big hART.

Namatjira Tailer by Sophia Marions

Showing at the Malthouse, Melbourne! from Sophia Marinos on Vimeo.

Day and Night at Hermannsburg


Lutheran mission

Namajira home

Palm Valley the Namajira's "art studio"

Ngurratjuta Iltja Ntjarra or Many Hands Art Centre of Alice Springs

Emma Daniel : Emma Nungarayi lived at Papunya for many years. She is a well respected elder holding much traditional knowledge, not only in story form, but also song and dance. Emma also lived at Mt. Doreen near Yuendamu for many years with her brother, Don Tjungerrayi and is one of the Traditional Owners of Karrinyarra, Mount Wedge. Emma now lives in Alice Springs and has been painting with Ngurratjuta since it first opened in 2004. Over the last few years Emma’s paintings have been gaining a lot of attention with her bold motifs and strong colours, indicative of the Papunya area. Emma's brother is the renowned artist Paddy Carroll (now deceased). Text courtesy of

Gloria Pannka : Gloria's father, Claude Pannka was one of the original 'Hermannsburg School' watercolour artists. Alongside Albert Namatjira, Claude developed an interest in painting when artists Rex Battarbee visited Hermannsburg in 1934. By 1950 Claude was painting full time and became a highly sought after artists. Gloria's father taught her to paint with watercolours and she continues to paint in the tradition of the 'Hermannsburg school' style. Gloria uses fine detail and subtle tones to capture the West MacDonnell Ranges where she currently lives. Gloria's work has featured in a number of exhibitions throughout her career, including the honour of receiving a 'highly commended' title for her painting in the NATSIAA 2008 which was then acquired by the NT Museum and Art Gallery. Gloria has also had the privilege of having her painting 'West MacDonnell Ranges' acquired by the Parliament House Art Collection Canberra. Text courtesy of

Community voices - videos by Sophia Marions

Mostyn from Sophia Marinos on Vimeo.

Ivy from Sophia Marinos on Vimeo.


Jagath Dheerasekara's photography can be viewed at