We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Albert Namatjira and his family

printed 1981


Axel Poignant

England, Australia, England

12 Dec 1906 – 05 Feb 1986

  • Details

    Other Title
    Albert Namatjira and his wife Rubina (seated) with other Aborigines, Northern Territory
    printed 1981
    Media category
    Materials used
    gelatin silver photograph
    35.3 x 45.4 cm image; 39.1 x 49.0 cm sheet
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Purchased 1984
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Courtesy Roslyn Poignant

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Axel Poignant

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Though not born in Australia, Axel Poignant's work is largely about the 'Outback', its flora and fauna and the traditions of Australian and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 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 Aboriginal people 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.

    This image was taken on Arrernte Country in the MacDonnell Ranges, likely near Mparntwe/Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory. The people in this photograph are, from left: Kukatja woman Rubina Namatjira (1903- 1974) (seated, wife of Albert), Maisie Namatjira (daughter of Albert and Rubina), Hazel Namatjira (daughter of Albert and Rubina), Western Arrernte artist Albert (Elea) Namatjira (1902 - 1959), Ewald Namatjira (son of Albert and Rubina) and Jonathan Namatjira (father of Albert, d1956). Prior to being baptised and accepting his Christian name, Jonathan's name was simply Namatjira, meaning 'flying ant'.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

Other works by Axel Poignant

See all 41 works