The Western Arrernte community of Ntaria (Hermannsburg) is based at the remote foothills of the Western MacDonnell ranges in Central Australia. The Hermannsburg Aboriginal Mission was established there in 1877 by two Lutheran missionaries who had trained at the Hermannsburg Mission in Germany before travelling to Australia. The mission land was returned to the traditional Arrernte owners in 1982. The arts were strongly encouraged at the mission and pottery was introduced in the early 1970s by Victor Jaensch who built a small kiln and advised on sourcing local clay and the hand-coil technique for making ceramic pots. Two Arrernte teaching assistants, Nashasson Ungwanaka and Joseph Rontji, learnt the art and began the tradition of making sculptures from clay. The Hermannsburg Potters Aboriginal Corporation was founded in 1990 and the artists have developed a distinctive style of sculptured figurative ceramic work. Their iconic pots feature small figures of birds, animals, plants and people which are sculpted onto the lids as well as painted onto the body of the pots.

Physical Description

Ceramic pot and lid; earthernware, balloon shape, which tapers to smaller circumference at the proximal and distal ends. Painted using acrylic colours depicting a blue sky background containing eucalyptus leaves, flowers, indigenous birds and yellow ground in the foreground. The lid has been painted yellow and has a sculpture of an orange bird sitting on a grey log.


Elaine Namatjira was one of the early members of Hermannsburg Potters Aboriginal Corporation which was founded in 1990.This pot features a flowering Eucalyptus tree with several birds on the body of the pot, a bird in flight is sculpted onto the lid. A talented artist Elaine also specialises in the style of painting known as the Hermannsburg watercolour movement. Like many of the Hermannsburg artists, Elaine learnt the art of watercolour painting from her grandfather, Albert Namatjira. In 1994, Elaine honoured her grandfather Albert's legacy by working with several of the Hermannsburg Potters to create a terracotta mural for the headstone of his grave.

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