The three paintings in the author’s collection by Gabriel show him to have been very talented in his tragically short life. The artist revealed enormous cultural pride in his country and heritage. Gabriel was the son of Enos Namatjira and his wife Ruby Moida. The artist attempted to show meaning to those ‘in the know’ and to display idealised country to others.
NOTE: The author met Gabriel’s daughter Rosalie at the opening of the National Gallery of Australia Seeing the Centre Exhibition in July 2002 at Araluen in Alice Springs. This exhibition of Albert Namatjira’s paintings was accompanied by a small number of paintings by Albert’s sons from the collections at Araluen Centre in Alice Springs. The author had already admired the outstanding painting by Enos when she noticed an Aboriginal woman with a young man on either side of her viewing the Enos painting. The woman had her hands on the shoulders of each young man, affectionately and she seemed very moved at the sight of the painting. The author leaned over toward her and said of the painting ‘It’s a knockout isn’t it’ and she turned around and hugged the author. She said she was the daughter of Gabriel and granddaughter of Enos, whom she remembered lovingly. Albert was her great grandfather. The young men appeared to be family members. Rosalie would have been about 37 years old. ‘We spoke at length and for a considerable time walked around with our arms around each other’.
Gabriel is described in Heritage as Western Arrernte, Subsection (Skin) Kngwarreye. Gabriel was half Pitjatjantjara (his mother Ruby Moida born 1926/28), one quarter Western Arrernte (his grandfather Albert) and one quarter Kukatja (his grandmother Rubina). Gabriel’s father Enos was thus half Arrernte and half Kukatja.
Gabriel married Valerie (born 1945) who was part Aboriginal and as at 1957 they had two children including Rosalie (born 4.11.1964) whom the author met as described above.
At the Census of Wards in 1961, Gabriel was at Papunya, which was part of the Mission area of influence from 1959. At the Census of Wards 30.6.1966, Gabriel was at No 2 Artists Camp in Alice Springs with Benjamin Landara, Keith Namatjira and Lindsay Ebatarinja (Imbarndarinja).
He painted seriously, but not with a large output, from around 1959. He was active in 1969.
The dates of creation of Gabriel’s paintings are difficult to estimate as no very early paintings have been found and only two have dates, 1964 and 1969.