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Watercolour and gouache over pencil on thick wove paper
Gift of Lady Trout 1981
Albert Namatjira was born at Ntaria (Hermannsburg) on the Finke River Mission Station in the Northern Territory. A member of the Arrernte people and the Kngwarreye skin group, he adopted the name of his father, Namatjira, at the time of his first solo exhibition of watercolours in 1938.
Namatjira began his career crafting artefacts decorated with pokerwork for the tourist market. He took up watercolour painting after seeing an exhibition by Rex Battarbee and John A. Gardiner.
In 1936, Namatjira accompanied Battarbee on a painting expedition and received tutelage in return for guidance through Arrernte country. With his intimate knowledge of his country, Namatjira developed a distinctive style, painting the vividly coloured beauty of the land.
In The Finke River Gorge at entrance to Glen Helen c.1945-53, Namatjira shows rays of light from the rising sun shining at an acute angle over Glen Helen and colliding with the ancient cliffs of the Gorge. The sun bathes the western escarpment in warm light. The rock face becomes animated and shadows are cast over its cracks and crevices. Brilliant reflections are thrown onto the Finke River, intensified by the shadows emanating from the spectral presence of the eastern crag.
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