Tag Archives: 1984

Plundered & Broken

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The tale of Aboriginal plunder is a never-ending ballad that sings in the winds of this great country, a land that Elea (Albert) Namatjira painted so lovingly in watercolour. Namatjira’s world-renowned artistic status may have provided him with a thin shield against racism but it was easily shattered, even his greatness, wealth and innocence could not protect him from incarceration.

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Namatjira surrounded by family as he painted

The legend begins when Artist , Rex Battarbee took a painting trip into the Outback, after returning from the devastation of War in the 1930’s. He met Namatjira and it was through their collaboration that the 30-year-old Aranda man learnt to paint and exhibit. They went onto become lifetime friends, able to see pass the bigotry of the day.

International success took this humble man to great worldly heights, he was awarded the Coronation Medal and was the toast of the town. His exhibitions sold out shortly after they opened and most kitchens had one of his reproductions on a calendar or tea towel.

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Before the 1967 Referendum, Australian Aboriginals where denied Human Constitutional Rights and were categorised as part of the wildlife or wards of the state. They were denied most basic human rights and in an insipid twist of irony could not own their land as it had been acquired by the Commonwealth.

Namatjira’s unprecedented rise on the world stage would require him to have a passport and his growing wealth attracted taxes, thus him and his wife Robina were given Australian citizenship  in 1957, enabling him to buy a house in Morris Soak .

Unfortunately his children were not granted citizenship and were regarded as ‘Wards of the State’ as all Aboriginal people were. They did not have the right to choose their marriage partner, be legally responsible for their own children,to change location or socialise with non-aboriginals. It also meant that when the Great Artist and his wife died the Legal Will that aimed to financially protect their children was made void as his children belonged to the state. Their financial copyright royalties were ‘acquired’ by the state and sold on.

The Namatjira Project  began as an objective to buy back the royalties (which will expire shortly) but has become a legal investigation.

The most moving part of the film is when Namatjira’s  homeless grandson gives his artwork to the Queen in her palace and walks away empty-handed. The documentary is a thoughtful journey, full of beautiful archives and an artistic vision, they tip toe over a mine field but I think they have let off a bomb.

*Due to the humane efforts of The Namatjira Project, the Royalties have been returned.

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Another victory in justice for the family

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The Namatjira Family continue the water-colour tradition as their cultural inheritance.

A Message from the Family

It is a with a heavy heart that we write to let you know that our dear friend and watercolour artist of true talent, Kumantjai K Namatjira has passed away. On Saturday afternoon 3rd November in Alice Springs Hospital, he bid farewell, surrounded by family. One year after his cousin, Kumantjai L Namatjira, and 5 years after meeting The Queen at Buckingham Palace.

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by April Forward

THE NAMATJIRA PROJECT

DIRECTOR & CINEMATOGRAPHER Sera Davies

PRODUCER

Sophia Marinos

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Julia Overton

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS (CULTURAL)
Lenie Namatjira
Gloria Pannka

Truth, what is truth?

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REVIEW

George Orwell’s 1984 , adapted by Robert Icke & Duncan Macmillan, is currently playing at the Comedy Theatre.

‘You don’t have to be an expert to know that Newspeak is the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year.”

Unwriting people, removing words, controlling thoughts was Orwell’s dismal view of the future. The play explores the tragic demise of the human spirit with brutal clarity.

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Tom Conroy as Winston

Winston played by Tom Conroy, is man of fear that falls prey to the Party machinery by daring to hope. His Partner in crime, the fierce and splendid Julia (Ursula Mills) is a vision that bursts into his life to set it ablaze for a brief moment.

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O’Brien (Terrence Crawford) Winston (Tom Conroy) & Julia (Ursula Mills)

The wooden interiors and costumes seem reminiscent of the 50’s when the book was written, a generation looking through the keyhole of the condition of the world in 1984. There are no clumsy cream PC’s or the continuous screening of the Iran- Iraq war that dominated our tv’s, in the 80’s. In its essence, the rich nostalgic settings creates a longing for something personal and contrasts the horror of The Ministry of Love.

The acting,direction and effects are flawless. Fiona Press as Mrs Parsons is formidable, by merely stirring a caldron, she captivates a mood that seeps onto the stage.

The Lighting (Natasha Chivers), Sound (Tom Gibbons) and Video Designer (Tim Reid) are major players in the production and carry the full power and might of Big Brother. It’s a beautifully crafted masterpiece, the sets have amazing attention to detail and border on the sublime.

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Paul Blackwell , Terence Crawford & Tom Conroy

Audience response:

“Nothing is believable, everything is manipulated, it’s unfortunate for humanity”

Do you think the play has any relevance to you? MP

“Which agencies are believable and which aren’t , its awful and in the end all you have is your own soul and that’s ripped apart as well.”

So what did you think about the play?

“It’s done amazingly well , there is nothing held back”

Would you recommend it?

“Very much , I want the world to see it”.

Some audience members had to leave midway in the final act, it is confronting.

PHOTOGRAPHS BY SHANE REID

MELBOURNE
Comedy Theatre
until June 10

 

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Orwell’s 1984 is back

‘Power is only what you allow it to be’.1984

English-born , George Orwell’s, 1984, will be re-visited.

MELBOURNE
Comedy Theatre
31 May – 10 June

Despite the age of the novel, its potent warning remains.

Orwell wrote the book in 1948, but it’s most relevant to those born in 1984 as the days of surveillance are upon us. ‘Big brother is watching’. Ironically Steve Jobs included a clip of the movie when Apple launched the Mac, in 1983. 1984 and the internet age coincide and determine the possibility of life imitating art.

Many of us read 1984 at school, a few of us saw the movie and though it’s been dormant for a decade or two, it resurfaces in a blaze.

Written as a Sci-fi, he wrote it based on events he witnessed as a Colonial Policeman in Burma. He never went to university and was not author previously, but what he wrote continues to resonate through time.

‘Why was he writing it? For the future, for the unborn’ (1984)

In ‘1984’, war is prolific, slavery, torture and imprisonment without trial, are common and fear abounds. The population is constantly aware that they are being watched and denied privacy.

He explains that ‘double speak’ is talk that reframes negative terms as positive and this language is used to subvert and confuse the masses.

War is Peace

Freedom is Slavery

Ignorance is Strength

Orwell knew the exploitation of power as he saw it first hand, as an inflicter, not a victim. He had used a female slave as a house companion, enforced cruelty and led men to their deaths. 1984 was to purge the pain of his conscience and to warn the innocent.

‘The hate had started.’ Orwell

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1984

“To hold the population down by force, I was in the police, which is to say. I was part of the machinery” Orwell

Although Orwell engaged in an evil authority he could not digest it, it disturbed him and led him to undermine his future life in acts of penance. 1984 was written to warn the innocent and to have hope that a future he saw could be prevented.

“ I watched a man hang once …… I didn’t realise what it meant to destroy a healthy conscious man…cutting a life short when it is in full tide, this man was not dying, he was alive, just as we were alive. He and we were a party of men, seeing, hearing and feeling, understanding the same world and in two minutes one of us would be gone” Orwell

Today young children play killing games, in their rooms on their computers. Some of the video games are rich in realism which makes the malice more personal; some are playing on Defence websites that observe their results for recruiting purposes. Many parents adopt the slogan, ‘Ignorance is Strength.’

‘So vicious was the boys demeanor it was hardly a game, it was frightening like tiger-cubs that will grow into man eaters … Mrs Parsons eyes flitted nervously from Winston to the children and back again….they do get noisy, she said. They’re disappointed because they couldn’t get to see the hanging, I’m too busy to take them.’ 1984

Orwell like Vincent Van Gogh walked away from his middle class life to become ‘down and out in Paris and London’, as a hobo he hoped to rid himself of the imperialist past that haunted him.

According to Orwell, war is ‘double think’, it is to use the product of the machine without producing goods. It is designed to strip human resources so those that have absolute power, can enjoy power.

If people live hungry and are overworked, even when it is easy for all to live well, it serves cruelty. Orwell explains in 1984 that there is a surplus of resources and all are able to live well but this is contrary to the desires of the ruling class.

‘The slave population allow the continuous tempo of war to be sped up …the primary aim of warfare is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living, the problem of what to do with the surplus’ 1984

Orwell explains that poverty is deliberate.