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Namatjira Project (ATOM Study Guide)

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This study guide is available as one comprehensive resource, or also in six sections that address the documentary’s key ideas – Albert Namatjira; The Namatjira traditional; Power; Land; Language; Respect. Each section links to a short film clip from the documentary.

Namatjira Project (2017), a feature documentary, directed by Sera Davies, tells the iconic story of Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira, and of his descendants’ attempt to reclaim the copyright of his life’s work. The documentary was created with the Namatjira family and is dedicated to them, and artists of the Hermannsburg Watercolour movement.

From Western Aranda Country in the Central Australian Desert, Albert Namatjira and his watercolour paintings pioneered the Aboriginal Art movement that is celebrated today. His descendants continue to paint the desert landscapes in watercolours, yet despite this art tradition’s success over five generations, they continue to struggle for survival.

In collaboration with arts for social change organisation Big hART, Namatjira’s descendants have embarked on a quest for justice and reconciliation that will hopefully see the copyright of his paintings returned to the Namatjira family. Namatjira Project acknowledges Western Aranda Elders of the Central Australian Desert - past, present and future - and their stunning Country on which this project is based. Always was, always will be, Aboriginal Land.

Curriculum links

Namatjira Project is a story of national and international significance, given its examination of the historical and contemporary relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and non-Indigenous people in Australia. Namatjira Project is recommended for students in Years 7 – 12. Age appropriate excerpts could be shown to students in Years 5 – 6.

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