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Pukatja pottery in Porcelain City

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Pukatja pottery in Porcelain City

19 Jan 2015

by Tessa Keenan

Derek Thompson and Tjimpuna Williams in Shanghai, China 2013.
Derek Thompson and Tjimpuna Williams in Shanghai, China, 2013. Photo: Janet DeBoos.

The National Museum recently purchased a stunning ceramic pot that Derek Jungarrayi Thompson made in Jingdezhen, China.

In 2013, Derek travelled with fellow ceramicist Tjimpuna Williams from Pukatja community (Ernabella) to Jingdezhen to take part in an artist's residency at the Big Pot Factory.

Jingdezhen, also known as 'Porcelain City', has a history of ceramic production spanning almost 2000 years. Today, Jingdezhen has a population of almost two million, with about one million people employed in the ceramic industry.

Derek and Tjimpuna worked on pots in a variety of sizes. The largest pots were over two metres high and used the sgraffito technique for decoration.

Sgraffito involves carving or scratching the painted surface of a leather-hard pot to reveal the colour of the clay underneath. For Ernabella artists, the sgraffito technique is similar to milpatjunanyi, the process of storytelling using drawings in the sand.

Ceramic pot
Kungkarangkalpa Attila, 2013, by Derek Jungarrayi Thompson. Photo: George Serras.

Seven Sisters story

In this work, Kungkarangkalpa Attila, Derek tells the story of the Seven Sisters at Attila, or Mount Conner, a flat-topped mountain which neighbours Uluru.

It was acquired for the Museum's Songlines collection and also adds to the Ernabella Arts collection that tells aspects of the stories of the community‚Äôs art and cultural practice.

Kungkarangkalpa Attila is on display in the new acquisition case outside the Circa theatre at the National Museum until early 2015. It is likely to reappear in an exhibition about the Seven Sisters songline in 2017.

Pictured left:

Kungkarangkalpa Attila, 2013
by Derek Jungarrayi Thompson
Pitjantjatjara language group
sgraffito technique on glazed stoneware
Height: 817mm. Diameter: 329mm.
Made in Jingdezhen, China
National Museum of Australia

Derek Thompson at Pukatja, South Australia.
Derek Thompson at Pukatja, South Australia. Photo: Alex Craig, courtesy Ernabella Arts.

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