The Hermannsburg Potters

THE HERMANNSBURG POTTERS are a dedicated group of Western Arrarnta artists creating vibrant handmade ceramic pots that encompass collective and individually lived histories in their distinct Country.

The Hermannsburg artists continue a 30-year legacy, sculpting and painting their visual histories and contemporary settings, speaking to their cultural beliefs, traditions and values.

Each artist works with a high level of skill in both hand-building pottery and watercolour-style landscape painting. These dynamic skills allow the artworks to evolve into individual depictions of the artist’s love for the local wildlife, memories of Country, community and traditions, as well as elements of contemporary life.

The vibrant and unique forms are made from terracotta clay working with the hand coil-pinch technique and finally painted with ceramic underglaze. The senior artists work with a style of painting reminiscent of Albert Namatjira, whose legacy continues to inspire the local community and its artists. This playful combination of mediums creates distinct work which had been widely exhibited and collected in Australia and overseas.

The pottery continues today with four longstanding, founding members who are currently mentoring more than 12 emerging artists to continue their work at the Art Centre.The Hermannsburg Potters support the local artists and their families, fostering the growing local economy of Hermannsburg.

The Potters working in the their studio, circa early 1990s.
The Potters working in the their studio, circa early 1990s.

Process

The Hermannsburg Potters iconic sculptured terracotta pots are made using the traditional hand-coil technique – the Potters do not use machines! In the early days, it was found that this was the most suitable method for working in this remote and challenging context.

Coils are carefully rolled from the clay, and the artists build up their pots slowly, pinching the rim of the pot, coil on coil. When the form is complete, the surface is smoothed and shaped with a wooden paddle, and then burnished with the back of a metal spoon. When the pots are bone-dry, they are decorated with under glazes (ceramic based material, or slips, with pigment). The pots are then fired to earthenware temperatures (1080 degrees Celsius).