TODAY, two of Albert Namatjira’s grandchildren Lenie and Kevin Namatjira – both painters in the watercolour tradition will meet with Her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace.
During her 1954 coronation tour of Australia, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth met Albert Namatjira, the renowned indigenous artist in Canberra, Australia. Albert presented Her Majesty with a painting which is now part of a group of Namatjira paintings in the Royal Family’s collection.
The Duke of Edinburgh owns paintings by Albert Namatjira and his son Oscar Namatjira which will be on display during the meeting in London today. Oscar Namatjira is Albert’s son and Lenie Namatjira’s father.
Today’s meeting is momentous and symbolic, reaffirming the international significance of Albert Namatjira and the Central Australian desert watercolour tradition.
“I am happy to see Her Majesty The Queen, I have come a long way, all the way from Australia to meet her and represent my family and our community,” Lenie Namatjira said.
“I’m a little bit nervous, but I am proud. I’m going to give Her Majesty a painting, like my grandfather did,” Kevin Namatjira added.
Lenie and Kevin Namatjira will also present Her Majesty The Queen with a postcard from school students at Ntaria (Hermannsburg) School, where they have been delivering workshops to nurture the next generation of painters to carry forward this great tradition.
Not only are Lenie and Kevin celebrated artists, but they are now stars of the stage too. In London with their Living Watercolours exhibition – presented by Palya Art – they will also appear in the Big hART stage production Namatjira, starring actor Trevor Jamieson, which has its international premiere tonight at Southbank Centre.
“I am hoping the Royals could come meet them, the way they met their grandfather,” said Jamieson when Australian Times spoke to him.
“Perhaps she’ll (Queen Elizabeth II) pull out one his originals, and say this was done by your grandfather. Imagine that.”
The Namatjira exhibition and play sit alongside the Royal Academy of Arts ‘Australia’ exhibition, which features two of Albert Namatjira’s paintings.
Albert Namatjira was a renowned watercolour artist and Aboriginal man, hailing from Western Aranda country in the Central Australian desert. He grew up in Ntaria/Hermannsburg, Northern Territory, Australia, and became the first prominent indigenous artist and a pioneer of contemporary indigenous art. He was also the first indigenous Australian to be granted citizenship in 1957.
Image credit: Brett Boardman