Queensland Art Gallery has opened the first chapter of the newly reconfigured Australian Collection, leading with an exploration of the life and legacy of Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira.

Indigenous Australian Collection: Namatjira Story‘ also features artworks by those Namatjira influenced, including artists from the Arrernte landscape painting tradition, the Hermannsburg Potters and his great-grandson, Vincent Namatjira.

Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Director Chris Saines said that Namatjira’s work is an important part of Australia’s art history and that the Collection’s opening is at a very fitting time.

“Namatjira occupies a significant place within Australian art history, being the first widely recognised Indigenous artist. His work West MacDonnells c.1945 — featured in the display — was the first by an Aboriginal

person to enter the QAGOMA Collection, in 1947,” said Saines.

“We believe this initial unveiling of the reimagined Australian Collection — highlighting Namatjira’s legacy — is a fitting display to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum.”

“Namatjira’s famous landscapes will be 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 Giner Riley and Lin Onus, alongside William Dargie’s Archibald Prize winning ‘Portrait of Namatjira 1956,'” he said.

The Gallery will continue to unveil the Australian Collection display in late September when the Win Schubert and Josephine Ulrich Galleries reopen after a major storage upgrade. This unveiling will

capture major historical moments from first contact to colonisation, with an emphasis on Queensland’s experience.

“The re-opening of these spaces brings to life our vision to draw out key strengths and fresh narratives in our extensive Australian holdings. We are thrilled to reveal an exciting reimagining of the Australian Collection,” said Saines.

“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,” he said.

Read about QAGOMA’s 10 year anniversary here.