Feeling for Pattern: 50 years of Tiwi pottery
2018 marks the 50 year anniversary of the establishment of a pottery studio at Bagot Reserve in Darwin to provide technical training for Aboriginal people who wished to become artist-potters. The Bagot Pottery was a ceramic and clay processing unit founded by the Northern Territory Welfare Department and the Department of Industrial Arts at the University of New South Wales.
In 1969, six Aboriginal men from Milingimbi, Port Keats (Wadeye) and Bathurst Island began their traineeships at Bagot Pottery. According to Ivan McMeekin, who alongside English potter Michael Cardew was employed to run the pottery, all of the trainees learnt the ‘practical potting skills quickly’ and brought ‘sensitivity and well developed feeling for pattern to their work’.
Two Tiwi men, Eddie Puruntatameri and John Bosco Tipiloura showed particular promise and upon their return to Bathurst Island in 1972 they established Tiwi Pottery. Over a decade later in 1984 Pirlangimpi Pottery, was established on Melville Island. This display highlights the evolution, style and direction of Tiwi pottery over 50 years.