Fire destroys Albert Namatjira's gum trees

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The Western Aranda people of Central Australia are mourning the loss of two Ghost Gums which had been the subject of a number of landscapes by renowned artist Albert Namatjira.

The Western Aranda people of Central Australia have been devastated by the loss of two Ghost Gums which had been the subject of a number of landscapes by renowned artist Albert Namatjira.

According to the NT Department of Lands, Planning and the Environment and Police, a fire was deliberately lit at the base of the trees earlier this week.

The trees were a stopping point for admirers of Namatjira's watercolour depictions of the Australian outback.

Born at Hermannsburg in the territory in 1902, Namatjira held his first exhibition in 1938 and painted for the following two decades, earning international acclaim before his death in 1959.

Photo: Image courtesy National Gallery of Victoria

Hermannsburg Traditional Owner Baydon Williams says the burning of the Twin Ghost Gums, 16 kilometres west of Alice Springs, is a severe blow spiritually and culturally to the Western Aranda people.

"Albert Namatjira painted those trees because he wanted to show the world about the dreamings and the markings...Those two trees symbolised a lot of sacred areas and songlines and marking of boundaries of different skin groups and different clans."

The Northern Territory's Minister for Indigenous Advancement, Alison Anderson, said the loss of the trees would sadden many Territorians.

"The twin Ghost Gums were a wonderful reminder of his connection to the land and many who visited the site would have felt a connection to this great Territorian," she said in a statement.

"Only recently work was done around the trees to try and protect them from fires and allow as much moisture as possible to get to their roots," she said.

Source NITV News

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