Lola Forester’s radio interview with Yavuz Gallery on Vincent Namatjira’s ‘Desert Songs’

5 Oct 2023

Vincent Namatjira is one of Australia’s most important contemporary artists and a proud Western Aranda man. For his latest body of work, Desert Songs, he has created incisive portraits that transport notable figures onto Country, short-circuiting our assumptions about history, power and politics.     

Program Director Alanna Irwin discusses Namatjira’s much anticipated debut exhibition with Lola Forester on the radio special Blackchat.

Blackchat informs its national audience on a range of current issues and celebrates the excellence of First Nations peoples across Australia. The multi-award winning program is driven by a team that’s committed to playing both established and up-and-coming First Nations musicians, giving artists new to the industry the chance to have their music played. Koori Radio has launched and supported the careers of many famous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

The show celebrates the trailblazers and originators of Australian country and Aboriginal rock, painting iconic musicians Archie Roach, Frank Yamma, Slim Dusty, and Warumpi Band frontman George Rrurrambu Burarrwanga. Often heard reverberating through Namatjira’s studio, their songs champion the stories of Aboriginal life that have so often been stifled. His portraits honour their soulful and defiant legacies at a time when recognising Aboriginal leadership is as vital as ever.    

Namatjira paints a diverse assessment of leadership in Desert Songs, with a moving portrait of his great-grandfather Albert Namatjira sharing the same space as Vincent van Gogh, Archie Roach, and King Charles. By placing them all on equal footing, he invites us to reflect on who we expect to see in our annals of leadership, and who we should find looking back at us.