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Arrarnta people

Australia 1902 – 1959

Boomerang (flower, emu, dog) c.1936-44 Description: Poker worked emu, flower, dog and linear design at both ends.
Place made: Hermannsburg, Northern Territory, Australia
Materials & Technique: sculptures, pokerwork on hardwood

Dimensions: 48.0 h x 7.0 w x 1.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1996
Accession No: NGA 96.1091

The seeds of Albert Namatjira's creative vision can be seen in these items he produced for sale to tourists.

The boomerangs that depict places, animals and people reveal a strong sense of design, which responds simultaneously to the shape of the article and the narrative requirements of the subject. The work he produced during this period demonstrates a quality that continued to inform his art for the rest of his life: an engagement with the particular and its idiosyncrasies.

Namatjira had a sense of the decorative and expressive potential of lines inscribed on surfaces, whether they were burnt into wood or brushed across the surface of paper. However, this potential was always realised within the framework of a commitment to the presentation of a particular reality. His vision of the multi-faceted country that was his home and that of his people was always expressed through the depiction of the 'specifics' of the subject.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra