For me, this book is exemplary, a benchmark in artist biography as well as a lens on the period and movement. -Prof Ian McLean, Melbourne University.
The master from Marnpi is worth owning for the images alone. Its compilation was clearly a labour of love, out of which Alec O’Halloran has made a beautiful book about a wonderful man. – Dr Martin Edmond, Sydney Review of Books
Namarari is one of the pillars of contemporary art practice, both Indigenous and contemporary Australian practice, and international as well. I would equate him with artists such as Rover Thomas and Emily Kngwarreye in terms of his ability, influence and his enduring significance to Australian art. – Hetti Perkins, curator and author.
Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri (c1923-1998) was a Pintupi speaker, born at an isolated rockhole, Marnpi, in the Western Desert. A reserved man, Namarari is remembered as a generous companion and a caring husband and father. Beyond his artwork he made numerous contributions as a patient teacher to Papunya Tula’s staff. Against the odds Namarari became an award-winning artist and left a profound legacy of over 700 paintings that illustrate his personal inventiveness and the cultural richness of his heritage.
The early chapters cover Namarari’s childhood in the desert and his move to the mission and cattle stations (1920s-1930s). The middle chapters cover his adult life in the cross-cultural zone west of Alice Springs (1940s-1960s). The final chapters (1970s to 1990s) consider his mostly-hidden roles of educator and local leader, and his art career, through to his passing in 1998. The biography concludes with a survey of his art, lavishly illustrated through 17 explanatory Painting Stories that might easily be the basis for a comprehensive exhibition of his life’s work.
The master from Marnpi provides insights into the colonisation of Central Australia and the tenacity of the Pintupi people. Namarari’s biography illuminates the circumstances of desert living and remote settlements for metropolitan readers, and offers some background for understanding contemporary communities and the link between remote artists and the marketplace. Namarari won the National Aboriginal Art Award, the Alice Prize and Australia’s prestigious Red Ochre Award – the only artist to receive all three awards.
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