Outback Christmas is a significant book, first published in 1981, and now in a new edition with new Preface, released ten years after the death of the artist, Pro Hart. This book portrays the nativity of Christ in bold images of the Australian Outback. Most of our Christmas art and verse have been inherited from English and European sources, but the Christian message is universal and other cultures commonly portray the characters and events surrounding Christ’s birth in line with local custom.
The authors write in the 1981 Preface that ‘the ideas and images of the book reflect the search of many Australians to make Christianity in Australia and Australian Christianity . . . Australian have sought to express their faith in language consistent with the Australian experience.’
Pro Hart (Kevin Charles Hart) was born in 1928 in the New South Wales town of Broken Hill, and spent his early years on a family owned sheep station. A world renowned artist who had for many years an art gallery in Broken Hill and is widely regarded as the father of Australian Outback painting and admired for capturing the spirit of the Outback. In his later life he developed motor Neurone disease and was unable to paint for the last six months of his life and died in 2006. He was made an a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1976.
Norm Habel was born Yulecart, near Hamilton in Victoria, Australia. He was professor of Biblical Studies in the USA from 1960-1973. In 1974 he returned to Australia and established the first Religion Studies Dept in Australia. From 1984-87 he was Principal of Kodaikanal International School in South India. During his time in India, he and his wife Janice Orrell established the Grihini program, a school and community health programme for oppressed Tribal and Dalit women in the remote hills around Kodaikanal.