Albert Namatjira – Aboriginal Artist

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Albert Namatjira was named Elea when born but after moving to an Aboriginal Mission his name was changed by his adoptive parents. It was not until he was 13 that he had significant cultural influence from his own Aboriginal people when he was taken back to his Arnada tribe for the learning of traditional life and customs. Like many of his people Albert took up painting as a part time activity to capture the stories of his forefathers and he soon progressed to making furniture and painting when in 1934 he attended a painting exhibition and was so inspired to take on painting as a full time pursuit. He soon took on painting outback landscapes in the Western style of painting which wee very different from the traditional Aboriginal painting and he became quite famous and certainly the best known Aboriginal artist. His initial exhibition was held in Melbourne in 1938 and was amazingly sold out and so followed further exhibitions in Adelaide and Sydney, which drew similar success. Albert Namatjira was the first Aboriginal to be granted full citizenship in 1955, which also meant he was able to purchase property, enter a hotel and even build his own home. It was a further 10 years though before the rest of the Aboriginal population of Australia was granted the same rights. Albert Namatjira passed away in 1959 leaving a legacy to his people that they could be inspired to follow.