Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that the following pages may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.

Practising Art – Ceramics, Fine Jewellery and Sculpture

Sep 7, 2021

Erritja (wedge-tailed eagle), Anita Ratara, Terracotta and Underglazes, 2020, 23.5 cm x 15.5 cm, photo courtesy of Hermannsburg Potters.

Practicing Art: A guide to DAAF 2021 ceramics, fine jewellery and sculpture

As we come to the final part in our Practising Art series, we hope you’ve enjoyed the online Art Fair with the knowledge and confidence of a true-blue art collector, and are ready to explore the work of Australia’s Indigenous artists year round!

Today we’re tackling ceramics, fine jewellery and sculpture, looking at just some of the incredible Art Centres and artists who are not only masters in these fields, but innovatively push them to new creative heights.

These particular fine art objects are often a great entry point for young collectors due to their (often) slighter size and lower price point. But that doesn’t make them any less incredible!

Yep, this element of First Nations artistic practice really does prove that amazing things come in small packages! 

Let’s sculpt it out.

Words by Camilla Wagstaff. 

Hermannsburg Potters: Anita Ratara

With their hand-crafted terracotta and underglaze ceramics, The Hermannsburg Potters bring the vibrant spirit of Central Australia to life. Taking inspiration from Country, culture, history and current events, these Potters masterfully depict life in Ntaria (Hermannsburg), nestled in the remote foothills of the MacDonnell Ranges, 130 kilometres west of Alice Springs.

Anita Ratara has established her unique, painterly pottery style over the past 3 decades working out of Hermannsburg Potters. As a youngster, Anita showed natural artistic ability, teaching herself to paint from an early age. She began working with clay in the early 1990s, when the pottery program was located at the outstations.

Today, Anita mostly depicts Palm Valley in her work, the home of the Wily Wagtail Dreaming. Palm Valley is Anita’s grandfather’s Country, and she continues to assert her links to her Country through her practice.

Erritja (wedge-tailed eagle), Anita Ratara, Terracotta and Underglazes, 2020, 23.5 cm x 15.5 cm, photo courtesy of Hermannsburg Potters.

Marrawuddi Arts & Culture: Doreen Djorlom

Marrawuddi Arts and Culture is owned and run by the Mirarr Traditional Owners, located in the repurposed Jabiru Bakery in Kakadu National Park. Home to more than 300 artists from Kakadu and West Arnhem Land, Marrawuddi is a vibrant open space for artists and visitors to engage in Kakadu’s rich Indigenous culture.

Marrawuddi artist Doreen Djorlom is an incredibly intricate weaver, working with only naturally dyed pandanus. Doreen has a knack for innovatively taking tradition and transforming it into the fibre art of today, resulting in stunning contemporary dilly bags and hats that are sculptures in their own right.

Doreen Djorlom on Mirarr Country, Marrawuddi Arts & Culture, 2021, Photo courtesy of Marrawuddi Arts & Culture.

Waringarri Arts: Boab Carvings

Waringarri is the first wholly Indigenous owned Art Centre established in Western Australia and one of the oldest continuously operating Art Centres in Australia. The Art Centre operates artists’ studios and galleries and supports more than 100 artists, and has become particularly well known for its intricately decorated Boab Nut Carvings.

Sourced from the iconic Kimberley boab tree, the pods or nuts were traditionally used in corroboree performances as percussion instruments, similar to that of maracas. Artists engrave designs onto the boabs, which are inspired by animal totems, Country and the patterns of nature, marking their value as significant cultural artifacts.

Maureen Simon, Insects, Turtle, Snakes and flowers, 2021. Waringarri Aboriginal Arts.

Baluk Arts: Lisa Waup

One of the relatively few Art Centres in the Southeast of Australia, Baluk Arts is an urban Aboriginal community based in Mornington, Victoria, supporting visual artists from across Australia. It has become well known for three-dimensional works in an innovative array of materials including wood, stone, bone, recycled materials, weaving and kelp.

One of Baluk’s most esteemed contemporary artists, Lisa Waup has become widely recognised for her practice spanning weaving, printmaking, sculpture, textiles and installation. With ancestral connections to the Gunditjmara and Torres Strait Islander People, Waup’s work eloquently illustrates her life’s journey through discovery and connection, weaving stories of her past, present and future into striking contemporary forms.

Mothers Wound, Lisa Waup, Toad Skins, Enamel Paint, Emu Feathers, Parrot Feathers, Galah Feathers, Cockatoo Feathers, Pandanus Fibre, Ceramic, Ochre, Glaze, Cotton Thread, Wadding. 2020, Photograph courtesy of Baluk Arts

walantanalinany palingina: Tanya Harper

walantanalinany palingina (WaPa) was born from a community need to establish a cultural creative space down in Tasmania. Since then, a core collective of Aboriginal creatives, with the support of Contemporary Arts Tasmania, have developed a series of programs, conversations and art practices that embolden and enliven cultural creative expression in the Country’s most southern region.

Proud Pakana woman Tanya Harper comes from the ancestral Lands of Tebrakunna and larapuna. Her work is a stunning example of the elegant, luxurious strung kelp shell jewellery pieces for which WaPa is fast becoming known.

Waypa, Tanya Harper, Shell stringing, 2021, 80cm, photo by Tanya Harper, courtesy of walantanalinany palingina


This draws our 2021 ‘Practising Art’ series to a close, if you missed the earlier pieces – delve into the exciting mediums and artistic practises of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists who were part of DAAF online in 2021 below.

Be sure to support and explore the works of our incredible Art Centres throughout the year. 

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