Aboriginal Watercolour Paintings


Albert Namatjira, an initiated Western Aranda stock man was tutored to paint with watercolour by Rex Batterbee while he was at the Hermannsburg Mission in the 1950’s.

Although Namatjira quickly grasped the notion of European perspective, his use of soft pastels, vibrant purple and blue hues depicted the Central Desert country as it had never been seen before.

At first glance the Namatjira landscapes seem to be a vast departure from traditional art. His use of non traditional colours and his ‘sideways’ view rather than the traditional ‘aerial’ view in sand paintings appear more like a conventional European landscape.

But Namatjira remained true to his Aboriginal culture. His Aboriginal paintings were maps of his country revealing the origin of the geographic formations created by ancestral beings and incorporating hidden iconic symbols. Which ever style we use Namatjira once said it’s still the same Dreaming story.

Namatjira produced a vast number of works and his Ghost Gums at Glen Helen became an iconic image.

Central Art recognises the importance of the watercolour colour style to the Arrernte people and is pleased to represent Peter Taylor Tjutatja's work as a continuation of this significant tradition.

Peter Taylor Tjutatja's passion and love of his country around the West MacDonnell Ranges – the same country that Namatjira painted – is evident in his paintings.

The iconic Rwetpypme (Mt Sonder) with its gorges, sand jutting quartzite ridges and valleys is the site of the Dancing Girl Mountain and a favourite with Taylor. Yapalpe (Glen Helen), a water hole where the Dancing girl emerged is the same site that Albert Namatjira painted.

But Peter's paintings are more than just a representation of the landscape. They give us a glimpse into the attachment and spiritual significance of this country to the indigenous people. They can also lead us into deeper appreciation of the astonishing beauty of the desert country.

Today now many decades later, Peter Taylor Tjutatja is one of a very few artists working in this style. Other watercolour artists are Therese Ryder and Harold Thomas.

To read on how to frame watercolour paintings please refer to Framing Instructions for Watercolour Paintings

Aboriginal word glossary