Mervyn Rubuntja

Mervyn Rubuntja

Skin name: Japanangka
Language: Arrernte
Date of birth: 1958-02-09
From: Alice Springs
Community: Alice Springs : NT



Mervyn was born at the Telegraph Station in Alice Springs. His mother Cynthia (Kamara) Obitja was a Western Arrernte woman. His father was the late Mr Wenten Rubuntja Pengarte a famous painter. 

His father was an important role model for Mervyn. He was a senior lawman and a respected member of his community. He fought for Aboriginal rights and protection of the land working alongside the Central Land Council and assisted in the Mabo agreement.

Mervyn has followed in his father’s footsteps painting in the watercolour style that his father taught him. When Mervyn was 13 years old his family moved to Hermannsburg this is where he first saw watercolour paintings as he watched his uncles Maurice, Oscar and Keith Namatjira painting like their father Albert. Arnulf Ebatarinja another uncle kindled Mervyn’s painting talent when he gave him some watercolour paperboard and taught him to paint.

Mervyn’s family moved back to Alice Springs in 1975 and he began to paint with Basil Rantji who taught him how to mix colours. 

In 2006 Mervyn was invited to submit a painting for the “Mornington Peninsular Works on Paper” Exhibition. Mervyn was a finalist at the 2008 NATSIA Awards in Darwin and in 2013 he was invited to participate at the seminar “Presences in the Art of Rex Battarbee and Albert Namatjira” at the State Library of NSW.


  • 2004 Central Advocate Award, Alice Springs, NT
  • 2005 Desert Mob Exhibition, Araluen Galleries, Alice Springs, NT
  • 2006 “Hermannsburg School of Art”, Araluen Galleries, NT
  • 2006 Desert Mob Exhibition, Araluen Galleries, Alice Springs, NT
  • 2007 Shifting Ground Exhibition, Araluen Galleries, Alice Springs, NT
  • 2007 24th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of NT
  • 2008 The Namatjira circle-landscapes of Central Australia, Birrung Gallery, Sydney, NSW
  • 2008 Desert Mob Exhibition, Araluen Galleries, Alice Springs, NT
  • 2008 25th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award, Museum and Art Gallery of NT
  • 2009 Desert Mob Exhibition, Araluen Galleries, Alice Springs, NT
  • 2009 Real to Surreal, Scenes from the Centre: Journey with the New Generation of Hermannsburg Watercolour Artists, Tandanya, Adelaide, SA
  • 2009 Beyond Batterby, Recent Watercolour by Central Australian Artists, Hobart, TAS
  • 2009 The Watercolourists of Central Australia, Indigenart, Melbourne, Vic
  • 2011 Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2011 Chapman Gallery, Canberra, ACT
  • 2012 Damian Minton Gallery, Sydney, NSW
  • 2012 The Lockup, Newcastle, NSW
  • 2012 Regional Art Gallery, Burnie, TAS
  • 2012 Art Mob, Launceston, TAS
  • 2012 Art Mob, Hobart, TAS
  • 2012 Frankston Arts Centre, Frankston, VIC
  • 2012 Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide, SA
  • 2012 Talapi Gallery, Alice Springs, NT
  • 2012 Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville, QLD
  • 2013 The Namatjira Legacy, Tali Gallery, Sydney, NSW
  • 2013 Customs House Library, NAIDOC week 2013, in collaboration with the City of Sydney and Tali Gallery, Sydney, NSW
  • 2013 Contemporary Aboriginal Art From Australia, Château de l’Etang, Paris
  • 2013 Southbank Centre, London, UK
  • 2013 Salon des Refusés, Darwin, NT
  • 2014 Five Generations: The Strength of Namatjira’s Legacy, Araluen Galleries, Alice Springs, NT
  • 2014 RightNow, Boomalli, Sydney, NSW
  • 2014 Regeneration, Metropolis Gallery, Geelong, VIC
  • 2014 The Men Artists of the Hermannsburg School of Art, Talapi Gallery, Alice Springs, NT
  • 2014 Namatjira to Now, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT
  • 2015 Hermannsburg Horizons, Wooloongabba Art Gallery, Brisbane, QLD
  • 2015 TARNANTHI,  The Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, SA
  • 2015 A Hermannsburg Christmas, Redot Gallery, Singapore
  • 2015 Kinship, In the footsteps of Namatjira, Moree, NSW

 Collections and Awards:

  • Araluen Galleries, Alice Springs, NT
  • Ian Viner QC, WA
  • Museum and Art Gallery of NT
  • Finalist at the 2008 Telstra Awards
  • 2006 “Mornington Peninsular Works on Paper“ Exhibition
  • 2004 Central Advocate Award, Alice Springs
  • 2014 Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute (Baker IDI)


  • Speaker at “Haunted Landscapes: Presences in the art of Albert Namatjira & Rex Battarbee”. A public symposium presented by the Writing & Society. The State library, Sydney, NSW, 2013

Special Projects:

  • 2014 Public Art, Mural at the Alice Plaza, Alice Springs