Namatjira the Painter

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Namatjira the Painter
Directed by Lee Robinson
Produced byRalph Foster
CinematographyAxel Poignant
Release date
Running time
22 mins
Budget£3,000 [1]

Namatjira the Painter is a 1947 documentary about the artist, Albert Namatjira. It deals with his background, his relationship with Rex Battarbee and how he learned to paint. [2]



The film was one of the first productions of the Australian National Film Board (later known as Film Australia). Ralph Foster was the first Film Commissioner appointed to the Board. [3]

Lee Robinson had joined the Board out of the army and wrote a treatment for the documentary in January 1946. Because no one else was experienced as a director, he was given the job. Robinson received basic advice on directing from Harry Watt, then in Australia shooting The Overlanders . [4]

Filming took around five months in mid 1946 in the Northern Territory, finishing in August, and was edited in Ralph Foster's flat. [5] The movie was completed after Stanley Hawes became head of the film board.


The film was widely screened in cinemas as a support feature. [6] It was re-released in 1974 with new narration.

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  1. 'Occasional Paper No. 49 TENTH ERIC JOHNSTON LECTURE 1995: Lost Conversations, Recovered Archives' By Roslyn Poignant
  2. ""HERALD" WEEK-END MAGAZINE Filming the life of Australia's famous aboriginal artist — Suggestion for approaching Mr. Chifley with a low bow — The wreek of the malabar, Easter 1931". The Sydney Morning Herald . National Library of Australia. 29 March 1947. p. 10. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  3. Namatjira the Painter (1947) at Moving History: 60 Years of Film Australia accessed 16 December 2011
  4. Geoff Mayer, 'Lee Robinson (1923 – 2003)', Screening the Past 30 April 2004
  5. 'Film Australia's Outback DVD: Interview with Lee Robinson' Archived 22 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  6. Lee Robinson interview with Albert Moran, Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media & Culture vol. 1 no 1 (1987)