A new chapter

On Friday, the Namatjira Legacy Trust was officially launched at the National Museum of Australia. The Museum was pleased to host granddaughters of Albert Namatjira and trustees, Lenie Namatjira and Gloria Pannka, Clara Inkamala, musician Shelli Morris, and Big hART’s Director Scott Rankin and Producer Sophia Marinos, with other special guests to celebrate the occasion. The event also marked the official launch of the Museum’s Ntaria (Hermannsburg) exhibit in the Landmarks gallery.

The Namatjira Legacy Trust aims to raise funds to “provide educational and professional development opportunities for practicing contemporary Indigenous watercolour artists; provide outreach and inter-generational workshops, where elders can teach young ones their craft, and pass on language and cultural tradition; facilitate on country workshops; and assist the artists’ participation in community, cultural and social activities.” A central focus of this work is an effort to reinstate the copyright of Albert Namatjira’s works to the Namatjira family.

Big hART producer Sophia Marinos speaking at the Namatjira Legacy Trust launch, with (left) Lenie Namatjira and Gloria Pannka. Photo by Jason McCarthy, National Museum of Australia.

Big hART CEO Scott Rankin said, “The Trust hopes to facilitate a return of the copyright of Albert Namatjira’s work back to the family and community and is also seeking to raise money to support the health, welfare, education and sustainability of the Namatjira families and extended communities – to ensure that the extraordinary Central Desert watercolour movement continues long into the future, benefiting many generations to come.”

The launch of the Trust is the culmination of work by Big hART with the Namatjira family, as part of the Namatjira project which began in 2009. Other outcomes from the Namatjira project were the theatre production Namatjira and a feature documentary Namatjira Project, screened as part of the launch on Friday and to premier later in 2017.

Deputy Director of Arts Law Centre of Australia, Delwyn Everard, officiating the signing of the Trust Deed by (left) Lenie Namatjira and Gloria Pannka. Photo by Jason McCarthy, National Museum of Australia.

In her speech, read on the day by Brenda Croft, curator and Arrernte woman Hetti Perkins said that the launch of the Trust represented ‘a new chapter’ in the story of the work of Albert Namatjira and his family. The Trust empowers the Namatjira family, in membership and on the board of directors, with its activities operating in association with the Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art Centre in Alice Springs, proudly Aboriginal owned and directed.

The National Museum has been in conversation with these artists and community members since 2015 to develop a new exhibit about Ntaria, the history of the Hermannsburg mission, and the work of Albert Namatjira and his descendants within the Landmarks gallery. The exhibit was installed in July 2016 to coincide with the 114th anniversary of the birth of Albert Namatjira and waited for this visit by Lenie Namatjira, Gloria Pannka and Clara Inkamala to be officially launched.

The Ntaria exhibit formed the backdrop for the Trust launch, and fittingly shows the work of four generations of artists in the Namatjira family, along with the signature of Albert Namatjira’s uncle Abel in a 1924 edition of Galtjindinjamea-pepa: Aranda-Wolambarinjaka, ‘religious instruction book’. The work of Albert Namatjira, his son Oscar Namatjira, granddaughter Lenie Namatijira and great granddaughter Benita Clements are shown together in the exhibit, following the development of this artistic tradition and clearly signalling the work of generations of artists to come.

Further reading:

Previous blog posts: Birth of an art movement and Visitors to Ntaria

Namatjira Legacy Trust

Landmarks gallery

Feature image: Sign for Albert Namatjira’s house, Larapinta Drive, near Ntaria (Hermannsburg). Photo by Jason McCarthy, National Museum of Australia.