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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Rex Battarbee, c. 1970

Rennie Ellis

type C photograph on paper (sheet: 62.0 cm x 47.0 cm, image: 29.4 cm x 43.9 cm)

Rex Battarbee OBE (1893-1973), art teacher, had no formal training in art before he won the Melbourne Centenary Prize for Watercolour in 1934. The same year he visited the Northern Territory with another Victorian artist, John Gardner, and together they showed their paintings at the Hermannsburg Mission school. Albert Namatjira saw them, and determined to produce similar works himself. Taught by Battarbee how to use watercolours, Namatjira took to the medium with enthusiasm. Battarbee included some of Namatjira's work in an exhibition of his own in Adelaide in 1937, and helped him to organise the first of many successful shows of his own a year later. Namatjira remains one of the best known Aboriginal people of the twentieth century. Battarbee moved to Hermannsburg and taught other painters, giving rise to the Arrernte School of watercolourists in the 1940s and 1950s. During the war he was charged with looking after the community, which had been established by German missionaries. In 1951 he opened a gallery in Alice Springs, and his book Modern Australian Aboriginal Art was published; the book Modern Aboriginal Paintings appeared twenty years later.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2006
© Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive
www.RennieEllis.com.au

Accession number: 2006.60

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Rennie Ellis (age 30 in 1970)

Rex Battarbee (age 77 in 1970)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia, 1978 (printed 2010) Rennie Ellis
Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia, 1978 (printed 2010) Rennie Ellis
Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia, 1978 (printed 2010) Rennie Ellis
Bon Scott & Angus Young, Atlanta, Georgia, 1978 (printed 2010) Rennie Ellis

No shirt, no service

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2010

Bon Scott and Angus Young photographed by Rennie Ellis are part of a display celebrating summer and images of the shirtless male.

Rosaleen Norton, Witch of Kings Cross, 1970-71 Rennie Ellis
Rosaleen Norton, Witch of Kings Cross, 1970-71 Rennie Ellis
Rosaleen Norton, Witch of Kings Cross, 1970-71 Rennie Ellis
Rosaleen Norton, Witch of Kings Cross, 1970-71 Rennie Ellis

Aussies All

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2006

Rennie Ellis photographs the self-proclaimed 'Witch of Kings Cross'.

Kinky Night. Impressions Club, 1987
Kinky Night. Impressions Club, 1987
Kinky Night. Impressions Club, 1987
Kinky Night. Impressions Club, 1987

Aussies all

Magazine article by Simon Elliott, 2006

The exhibition Aussies all features the ecclectic portrait photography of Rennie Ellis which captures Australian life during the 70s and 80s.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.