The first chapter in the newly reconfigured Australian Collection display at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) is now open, leading with an exploration of the life and lasting legacy of Albert Namatjira. ‘Indigenous Australian Collection: Namatjira Story’ concentrates on one of the largest thematic holdings in the Gallery’s Collection, including a special focus on the Hermannsburg School art movement that began at the Lutheran mission of Hermannsburg in Central Australia, also Namatjira’s birthplace, in the 1930s.
Namatjira occupies a significant place within Australian art history, being the first widely recognised Indigenous artist. His work Western MacDonnells c.1945 – featured in the display – was the first by an Aboriginal person to enter the Collection in 1947.
Namatjira’s famous landscapes are on display along with the works of his five sons, artworks by Namatjira’s great-grandson Vincent Namatjira, a comprehensive display of watercolours by Hermannsburg School artists, and pottery by the Hermannsburg Potters. Other artists featured include Ginger Riley and Lin Onus, alongside William Dargie’s Archibald Prize winning Portrait of Namatjira 1956.
In late September the Gallery will continue to unveil its newly reconfigured Australian Collection display when the Win Schubert and Josephine Ulrich Galleries reopen at QAG after a major storage upgrade. The new Australian Collection display will capture major historical moments from first contact to colonisation, and exploration to immigration, with an emphasis on the Queensland experience. The re-opening of these spaces brings to life a vision to draw out key strengths and fresh narratives in our extensive Australian holdings.
The new display will bring the Indigenous and Contemporary Australian collections into conversation with our historical holdings, and explore stories about Queensland and Brisbane from the region’s own perspective. This is the first time that QAG has attempted to truly integrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander works alongside the familiar non-Indigenous artists of this country, to tell a fuller story of Australian art.