• Albert Namatjira's painting 'Blue Haze over James Range'. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Artist Albert Namatjira's family have received a compensation settlement from the NT government, 35 years after copyright was sold without the family's consent.
Brooke Fryer

29 Aug 2018 - 3:31 PM  UPDATED 29 Aug 2018 - 3:54 PM

After years of negotiating with the Northern Territory government, grandchildren of the late Albert Namatjira have agreed to an undisclosed landmark compensation deal.

For more than three decades the family of the Western Arrernte artist were denied copyright over the artist's work.

Great great grandson of Albert Namatjira and family director of the Namatjira Legacy Trust, Clayton Namatjira, told NITV News he has "mixed emotions" about the settlement.

“It’s been a long time coming for the people that have been on the front line since the beginning,” he said.

"It’s been a long campaign to have this copyright back and some family have passed away."

Mr Namatjira said after hardship caused over the last 35 years, the compensation agreement is the start of the healing process.

“It’s a bit of a relief, we can start focusing on the future.”

He said his family wants people to remember the artist for the cultural man he was and someone passionate about positive change within local communities.

“It is a great privilege to be able to say you are related to this great man,” said Mr Namatjira.

The family lost copyright control of Albert Namatjira’s art in 1983 when the Northern Territory Public Trustee sold the copyright to Legend Press for $8,500. 

Sophia Marinos, Chair of the Namatjira Legacy Trust told NITV News it was a relief when the copyright was handed back to the Namatjira family in October last year.

"I don’t think you can ever compensate what was travesty of justice over many years," she said.

“I absolutely commend the government for coming forward and settling with the family in an open and willing way," she said.

However, with the copyright expiring in 2029, Ms Marinos said the trust is campaigning for the copyright period to be extended.

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