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An image of Albert Namatjira's father Jonathan Namatjira by Axel Poignant

Axel Poignant

(England, Australia, England 12 Dec 1906 – 05 Feb 1986)

Albert Namatjira's father Jonathan Namatjira
Other titles:
Head of an old Aborigine (possibly a relative of Albert Namatjira)
Portrait of an old Aborigine, Macdonnell Ranges, Northern Territory
printed 1981
Media category
Materials used
gelatin silver photograph

45.4 x 34.7 cm image; 50.6 x 40.4 cm sheet

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Purchased 1984
Accession number
© Courtesy Roslyn Poignant
Not on display
Further information

Though not born in Australia, Axel Poignant's work is largely about the 'Outback', its flora and fauna and the traditions of Australian and Indigenous identity. Poignant was born in Yorkshire in 1906 to a Swedish father and English mother, and arrived in Australia in 1926 seeking work and adventure. After tough early years of unemployment and homelessness, he eventually settled in Perth and found work as a portrait photographer, before taking to the road and the bush in search of new subjects. Poignant became fascinated with the photo-essay as a means of adding real humanity to the medium, and much of his work is in this form. The close relationships he developed with Aborigines on his travels are recorded in compassionate portraits of these people and their lives - the low angles and closely cropped frames appear more natural and relaxed than the stark compositions of earlier ethnographic photography.

Exhibition history (1)

Four Photographers, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 02 Jun 1990–19 Aug 1990