Herbert Raberaba was a superb artist of classical Hermannsburg School style paintings from the mid-1950s through the 1960s and into the late 1970s. Herbert exuberantly portrayed an exciting country that is dramatic and yet delicate. The ghost gums often appear to be animate bystanders, not merely aesthetic devices to frame a scene.
He became a master painter of the Hermannsburg School in the 1950s when his paintings became the classical means to celebrate his country. He consolidated his leadership in the 1960s, when he cleverly adapted traditional design devices to intensify the excitement – but in a way consistent with mainstream market expectations of the Hermannsburg School.
Herbert was fully engaged with an energetic and fresh mind. His paintings built on Albert’s style substantially.
Herbert probably started to paint around 1952, aged about 33 years. He participated in an exhibition at Tmara Mara Gallery in Alice Springs in 1952. His older brother, Henoch Raberaba, started to paint seriously in 1947. Henoch was six years older than Herbert. Herbert was Western Arrernte, Subsection Penangke.
Herbert Raberaba and his brother Henoch were the sons of Alkngantjika Raberaba and Anna, second child of an important ancestor Ratara (3.7.7, p 33). The Raberaba family is quite small but it is important, due to its close ties to the Ratara family through their mother Anna. The Raberaba family were traditional owners of The Roulbmaulbma or Ellery Creek estate [Report of Palm Valley Land Claim No. 48, Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, Justice Peter R.A. Gray, 13.8.1999, p 137]. Ellery Creek is east of the town of Hermannsburg. Herbert married Arfa, an Arrernte woman, born 1926. In 1957 they had children, including future artist, Brendan. (R/W 1957)
Henoch and Herbert painted over a wide range of locations, but some included their family’s Ellery Creek area, east of Hermannsburg.
The author’s earliest painting with a definite date is from 1954 and it is confidently painted, suggesting that he had been painting for at least one year. The artist is represented in the Flinders University Art Museum, National Gallery of Australia, and ARALUEN collections.
Herbert’s hill bases were less rigidly composed of parallels than Henoch’s, but the bases flared out with little emphasis on lateral parallels like some other painters. Herbert’s landscapes were very descriptive and schematic infill was at a minimum.