Mervyn Rubuntja’s Designer Compact Umbrella
This beautiful compact umbrella features the artwork of senior artist Mervyn Rubuntja. The original painting created in 2015 is titled Tjoritja (West MacDonnell Ranges, NT). Painted in a circular format it provides an all-compassing view of Mervyn’s West Aranda country.
Mervyn is the Chairperson of Iltja Ntjarra, the 100% Aboriginal owned and directed art centre supporting landscape painters in Mparntwe (Alice Spring). Iltja Ntjarra has a special focus on supporting the ‘Hermannsburg School’ style watercolour artists, who continue to paint in the tradition of their grandfather and relative, Albert Namatjira, arguably one of Australia’s most famous artists of the 20th century. Albert Namatjira taught his children to follow in his unique style, who have since passed this knowledge on to their children, which has resonated in a legacy of watercolour artists in the Central Desert region. By continuing his legacy, these artists sustain an important piece of living history.
Whilst committed to continuing the Namatjira legacy, the Iltja Ntjarra artists are also brave and adventurous and excited by the possibilities of seeing their works reimagined in different formats and for different purposes. They have undertaken a number of projects to explore these possibilities. Once such project was the development of the Namatjira Collection, a beautiful range of limited editions 1950’s era circle skirts on to which artists’ circular landscape paintings were printed. Mervyn created a number of circular paintings for the project including the painting now reimagined on this umbrella.
Mervyn’s original artwork circular watercolour landscape on paper was first exhibited alongside a circular skirt with his painting digital printed on it in May 2015 at RAFT artspace in Mparntwe (Alice Spring). The collection was then showcased at the Art Gallery of South Australia in late 2015 as part of TARNANTHI: Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art. The original painting were also transformed into illuminated sculptures for Parrtjima: A Festival of Light in 2016 under the title Inti Ljapa Ljapa Irapakalam, Butterfly going round and round.
Mervyn talks with enthusiasm of reimagining his watercolour painting for the project:
We are excited to go in a bit of different direction, but we still have the landscape paintings in our minds, the way it started.
This umbrella is a further extension of the 2015 project and one that Mervyn is excited to see come to fruition:
I like it because everyone can wear my artwork and show other people. We should do more of that, that’s what I’m thinking.