The Power of Omission. "Seeing the Centre: The Art of Albert Namitjira 1902-1959" by Alison French and "The Town Grew Up Dancing: The Life and Art of Wenten Rubunjta" by Wenten Rubuntja (with Jenny Green). [review]
French's book is full of conjunctions and anecdotes: about Namitjira's teacher and friend Rex Battarbee, about Hermannsburg, about alcohol, arrest and humiliation, about Albert's singing voice, which was admired by the leader of the Vienna Boys' Choir, stranded in Australia during the war. Perhaps the most important link created by Namatjira is that between his own pioneering status and the next generation of Aboriginal artists. "The Town Grew up Dancing" is primarily an oral history, based on twenty-five years of taped interviews and conversations, mostly between Wenten and the book's co-author, Jenny Green. The narration is multilingual: in Rubuntja’s first language, Arrernte, as well as Aboriginal English and English. A rich textual synthesis results from maps, photographs and colour reproductions of his paintings, and, perhaps most poetically, from Rubuntja's love affair with language and his awareness of the continuation of the past within the present - the effects of massacres, land grabs, religion, war or knowing there was once an important soakage and a group of mallee trees where there’s now a supermarket. In Wenten Rubuntja's own words, 'This book is really good - people have got to read it and say, "This is a really good story".'