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est. 1990 - present

Ntaria (Hermannsburg) is a former Lutheran mission about 130km west of Alice Springs in Western Arrernte country. It is now the home of the Hermannsburg Potters. The Arrernte people from this area are famous for their watercolours of the desert interior of Australia, in the tradition of Albert Namatjira.

When the Arrernte community assumed responsibility for the community in 1982, Aboriginal Pastor Nahasson Ungwanaka sought avenues to develop and promote the welfare of his people. Many Arrernte had experience modelling clay figures through their schooling and Ungwanaka lodged a request for instruction in ceramics. This resulted in the appointment of a ceramics teacher and the establishment of a pottery studio. After nearly two decades of operation, a core group of dedicated women artists have developed a unique style combining Native American–style coil-built pots, clay figures and Arrernte landscapes.

The Potters have retained strong links to the watercolour landscape painting movement that many of the women remember seeing in their childhood, which continues as an influence and source of pride in the community, as Judith Inkamala explains:

We like to watch them old pictures. Copy them a bit. Still keep it, remembering. All our young people should learn the watercolour. We saw Albert and the others. We know it and carry it in our work. We the same family.

These ceramics and paintings constantly reinvent the tradition born at Ntaria six decades ago while further strengthening their connection to country.

Bruce Johnson McLean

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