Namatjira Project (Sneak Preview)

Art discipline: Film

Artist: Big Hart

The family of internationally celebrated Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira fight for survival in two worlds – the remote Australian desert and the opulence of Buckingham Palace - telling their story in a quest to regain the copyright of their grandfather’s artwork.

 

Synopsis

Albert Namatjira was the first Indigenous person – an Aranda man - to be made a citizen by the Australian Government. This at a time when Aboriginal people were still considered flora and fauna - some 170 years after white people arrived in Australia.

 

An extraordinary man, Namatjira was the founder of the Indigenous art movement in Australia, exhibited globally, and introduced to Queen Elizabeth. However, Namatjira was caught between cultures - paraded as a great Australian while simultaneously treated with contempt and eventually wrongfully imprisoned. He passed away in 1959.

 

In 1983 the copyright to his entire catalogue was sold by the Government to an art dealer. Despite his work being so iconic (and valuable), his family today fight for survival, justice and - crucially - to regain the copyright to their grandfather’s work. The copyright is a deeply symbolic issue and speaks to the unresolved relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians today. It is a cultural rights issue.

 

The Namatjira Legacy Trust

Namatjira Project is more than just a documentary. It is part of a campaign to restore justice to the Namatjira family. The Namatjira Legacy Trust has been established to support the Namatjira family and extended communities. The watercolour art movement is their strongest asset – internationally recognized and an avenue to generate income, at the same time as connecting to country, heritage and culture.

 

The Trust supports professional development and outreach, so that more community members have the opportunity to strengthen their art making and improve their well-being. It also aims to bring back to the Namatjira family the copyright of Albert Namatjira’s artworks. The Trust supports the livelihood and futures of Western Aranda communities.

 

“Our Western Aranda communities today face many of the same difficulties Albert Namatjira did over sixty years ago. We are strong, but our painting tradition - our livelihood – is fragile. Getting this documentary out for the world to see will help us continue the work passed down to us by Albert. Help us to keep our culture strong, to teach the young ones and to celebrate our remarkable heritage into the future.”

The Namatjira Family

 

Background – Big hART & The Namatjira Project

This film has grown from a long term, multi-platform, arts and community development programme by the same title – 'the Namatjira Project'. It’s a Big hART project, which means it works with communities and individuals, creating art and spearheading positive social change for some of Australia’s most disadvantaged people. Big hART is Australia’s leading arts and social change organisation, which in its 25 years has won over 40 awards for its prolific work across art forms.

 

The Namatjira Project film has been created over 7 years in Central Australia, and in the process Big hART have forged strong friendships with the Namatjira family. This has enabled unprecedented access that has authenticity and integrity at its heart.

 

The ICAF screening of the Namatjira Project film is a private preview screening fort ICAF delegates - the film has yet to officially premiere in Australia and beyond. ICAF is very grateful to the Namatjira family and Big hART for this unique opportunity, which is all the more special to us because the theatre production Namatjira, which features prominently in the film, was workshopped and showcased at ICAF-5 in 2011.

Thursday 30 March 19.00
Friday 31 March 13.30

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