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The Hermannsburg Potters

The Hermannsburg Potters

The 130 kilometre drive to Hermannsburg from Alice Springs offers some truly spectacular Australian landscapes. The Aranda people of Hermannsburg have been reproducing this country as art for over seventy years. Like Albert Namatjira, the great Australian painter and founding artist of the Hermannsburg School of Art, the master potters at Hermannsburg continue to push the boundaries of their imagination and skill.

The Aranda people from Ntaria (Hermannsburg) have a long tradition of producing art.  They have been quick assimilators of new ideas, incorporating fresh inspiration into their art and life while maintaining traditional important family and territorial relationships. This cross-fertilisation of ideas allowed for fascinating results often in non-traditional media.

In 1990 the group of artists at Hermannsburg sought guidance from an accomplished potter from the Northern Territory Open College of TAFE, Naomi Sharp. With access to her expertise and the use of one kiln, the potters began to produce the startling and exciting pots for which they have become renowned.

It is well known that the making of pottery is not a tradition with Australian Aboriginal people and so it is viewed by the artists as more a vehicle for artistic self-expression and the objects themselves are not viewed as utilitarian items. As Sharp comments;

“The Hermannsburg potters are today still contributing to their cultural continuity. They are artists who have innate skills enabling them to use any medium that appeals to them and to continue to reassert their links with their country and tradition.”

The potters work with a terracotta clay body to make their pots using hand-building and coiling methods. Intricate moulded figures of animals or bush tucker are used as lid decoration and surface treatments, adapting their own stories to this new craft and often incorporating images or influences from outside cultures.

Now master ceramicists in their own right, the Hermannsburg Potters have an extensive career exhibiting widely through Australia and internationally. Their recent commission for the National Gallery of Victoria Our Land is Alive set new benchmarks for their engaging and lyrical pots. This major installation of work was held at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia from 19 December - 11 April 2016.

The work of The Hermannsburg Potters is held in most major Australian institutions and several major art collections nationally and abroad. Alcaston Gallery has represented The Hermannsburg Potters and hosted their exhibitions for twenty-five years.

© The Hermannsburg Potters and Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne 2017


Selected Exhibitions:

2000 Unveiling the QUT Art Collection, Queensland University of Technology Art Museum, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

2000 This Earth For Us, Commonwealth Institute, London, England

2000 Art of Place, 5th National Indigenous Heritage Award, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia – Touring Exhibition 

2000 Transitions, 17 Years of the National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Island Award Touring Exhibition – Australian Museum, Canberra; Drill Hall, Australian National University, Canberra; Tandanya Kaurna Gallery, Adelaide; Melbourne Museum, Victoria

2001 Spirituality and Australian Aboriginal Art, Madrid, Spain – Touring 16 Regional and Central Galleries

2002 Seeing The Centre – The Art of Albert Namatjira, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

2003 Emerge – Discovering New Indigenous Art, MAGNT Darwin Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

2003 Message Sticks, Sydney Opera House, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

2007 24th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

2007 Indigenous Ceramics, SoFa Chicago, USA

2007 Indigenous Ceramic Art Award, Shepparton Art Gallery Shepparton, Victoria, Australia 

2008 Nanah Etatha Nuka – This is our Life, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

2009 Iltja Nunaka Orkapurna Ntari – Hand-made from Hermannsburg, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

2010 Themes of the Central Desert: New ceramics by the Hermannsburg Potters, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

2011 Hermannsburg Potters 2011. Stories from Clay, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

2012 Desert Mob 2012, Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia

2013 The Hermannsburg Potters – New Hand-built Pots & Sculpture, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

2014 New Marks, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

2015 Our Land is Alive, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 

2016 Provenance Does Matter: The Collectors' Exhibition, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

2016 Pmara: Country, Home, Map, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

2017 Time and Tide, ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2017 Festival, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

2017 Hermannsburg Potters: Lyilhama – Music, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

For an extended CV, please contact Alcaston Gallery at