Seeing the centre
The art of Albert Namatjira 1902–1959

Introduction | Discoveries | Light | Transformations | Animate | Sights | Intimate | Saplings | Looking | Bibliography | Gallery of works

Intimate communities:
palm trees [arrangkeye] and other rare plants

A favourite tourist spot since the 1930s, Alyape (Palm Valley) has inspired many artists. For Albert Namatjira it had a special attraction.

He held the status of kutungula (manager) of this country, which he inherited from his mother Ljukutja. Namatjira's mother belonged to the clan country around Alyape, what is now known as Palm Valley. The major site in the area was nuagina, a place of the Yelka (Bush Onion Dreaming). Under traditional Western Arrernte law, rites to 'manage' the country of one's mother are as important as rights to 'own' the country of one's father.

A complex network of relationships to sacred sites within Palm Valley and its wider region connected many of the Hermannsburg artists and still connects their descendants today. Successive generations of Western Arrernte artists have painted there, especially Namatjira's 'nephew', Walter Ebatarinja.

Albert Namatjira Palm Valley c 1945-49 Private Collection Adelaide

Banner: Albert Namatjira Mount Sonder, MacDonnell Ranges c 1957-59 (detail), National Gallery of Australia, Canberra