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National Museum of Australia

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Spearthrower decorated by Albert Namatjira

2000.0039.0003

Spearthrower decorated by Albert Namatjira

Object information

Physical description

Wooden spearthrower with a wooden peg attached with sinew and adhesive resin at one end, and which tapers to a bulbous head at the other end. The spearthrower is decorated with a watercolour landscape scene in the centre, a black emu and kangaroo on one side and a dancer painted in black on the other side. There are further watercolour decorations on the side of a red flower with four parts.

Statement of significance

The Goodmans collection comprises two spears, a spearthrower and two boomerangs.

The boomerangs and spears were made by Mick Tjakamarra and Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri. Tjakamarra was an important figure in the early days of the Papunya movement, a significant art movement of the Western Desert and for which a major exhibition was held at National Museum of Australia in 2007. Both men were ceremonial leaders and these objects, painted with totemic designs, are material evidence of this. The spearthrower was painted by Albert Namatjira, a well-known Arrente artist. As the first recognised Aboriginal artist, Namatjira has an important place in Aboriginal art history. Although producing artefacts, his landscape paintings helped to make non-indigenous people more aware of Aboriginal art, although not everyone appreciated his talent or understood how his paintings reflected his connection to country. He also came to symbolise the differences between the rhetoric and realities of assimilation.

Object information

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