On November 27, Lenie Namatjira and Kevin Namatjira – grandchildren of renowned Central Australian Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira – were invited to attend a private audience with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace ahead of the international theatrical premiere of Namatjira at London’s Southbank Centre.
Both Lenie and Kevin also appeared in the Big hART stage production of Namatjira, as well as having their works displayed in the Living Watercolours exhibition – presented by Ngurratjuta Many Hands Art Centre and Palya Art – alongside the stage production at Southbank Centre. They were joined at Buckingham Palace by their colleagues Trevor Jamieson, Derik Lynch, Scott Rankin and Sophia Marinos.
It was a momentous trip, highlighting the significance of the Namatjira family story on the International stage. Not only did the Namatjiras meet Her Majesty the Queen, but on 5 December they were also invited to attend an exclusive reception with the Prince of Wales at the landmark Australia exhibition, at the Royal Academy of Arts. With Prince Charles, an avid watercolourist himself, they discussed the two Albert Namatjira works hanging in that exhibition.
Namatjira is a groundbreaking Australian work by Big hART, starring Trevor Jamieson and Derik Lynch. Following the national sell-out sensation Ngapartji Ngapartji, Big hART’s Namatjira brings us the moving story of Albert Namatjira – a journey that is at turns deeply compelling and vibrant. The rich watercolours of Namatjira’s story are transformed into a momentous theatrical event that has brought audiences to their feet during its national and international performances.
Both Living Watercolours and Namatjira are part of a much broader arts and community development project based in Central Australia. This project has been running since 2009 and is large, multi- layered, long-term and designed to leave lasting legacies beyond touring exhibitions and performances. The Namatjira Project runs workshops in Ntaria (Hermannsburg) with school students and supports the Hermannsburg Choir. The project facilitates ‘on country’ painting workshops for the Hermannsburg School of watercolour artists, and is working with Ngurratjuta Many Hands Art Centre to secure the long term future of the Central Desert watercolour movement. This movement is part of Australia’s heritage, as well as being the source of livelihood for many individuals, families and communities. The project also contributes to social policy discussion around Aboriginal Art Centres, resale royalties and copyright. The project will continue to grow and contribute to healing in Ntaria and in the broader community.
The Namatjira Project is run by arts and social innovation organisation Big hART, in collaboration with members of the Namatjira family and many community, government and business partners. Over its lifetime, the Namatjira Project has been proudly supported by the Australia Council’s Creative Communities Partnerships Initiative, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board, and the Theatre Board.
The Royal audience and subsequent London theatrical season of Namatjira are landmark achievements for Big hART and a significant recognition of Australian artists and stories on the international stage.
You can read more about the many facets of the Namatjira Project and other Big hART projects.