Vase, ceramic, maker unknown, made at the Ceramic Research Unit, Bagot, Northern Territory, Australia, 1967-1974
In 1967, a Pottery and Clay Processing Unit was established at Bagot as part of the co-operative research program into 'Aboriginal traditional technology, skills patterns and work habits', which was proceeding under the general direction of Professor L.M. Haynes (1913-2000), Head of the Department of Industrial Arts, University of New South Wales, and Mr E.P. Milliken, Director of Research, Welfare Branch of the Northern Territory Administration.
The Pottery and Clay Processing Unit, designed by Ivan McMeekin of the University staff, was completed early in 1968. Michael Cardew, the distinguished English potter, who had worked for many years in Nigeria with Indigenous people, was invited to join the University Staff as a Visiting Fellow, specifically to teach the first Indigenous trainees at Bagot Pottery. He was assisted in the teaching and work of the Pottery by a number of post-graduate students of the University, themselves skilled potters, who had been taught by Ivan McMeekin during their under-graduate course in the Department of Industrial Arts.
When Michael Cardew returned to England, Alistair Hallum, a New Zealand potter and Cardew's assistant, took over the running of the Unit. From 1970, John Burns, a post-graduate student of the Department led the Unit.
In this collection of principally domestic stoneware are some pieces made during the first six months at Bagot under the direction of Michael Cardew. All the pieces were made during the years 1967-1974. The first trainee potters came from Melville and Bathurst Islands, Milingimbi, Maningrida and Port Keats., and are identified in a catalogue for an exhibition held in 1970 at the Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery. They include Eddie Puruntatameri, Bede Tungutalum, Bobby Wunyinmarra, Augustine Kungul, Ronald Kerinaiua and John Tipiloura.
In 1972, Puruntatameri returned to Bathurst Island, where Tiwi Pottery was established alongside the existing screenprinting workshop, Tiwi Designs (established 1969). This pottery was encouraged by the Catholic Bishop of Darwin, and supported by Dr Coombs (Australia Council) and the University of New South Wales through Ivan McMeekin.
During the years 1968 to 1974, Professor Haynes made frequent visits to the Pottery accompanied by his research assistant, J.M. Waddell (later J.M. Haynes), also a member of the University Staff. Records were made on 35mm still film (colour transparencies) and 16mm movie film. During these periods of research, Professor Haynes purchased a number of pots, made by the trainees at Bagot, for his private research collection.
On 24 December 1974, the Bagot Pottery was destroyed by Cyclone Tracy and the remaining equipment was transferred to Tiwi Pottery while the remaining pots were transferred to the Department of Industrial Arts. Some time before Professor Haynes retired in 1978, a decision was made by the University to transfer the Department, in part only, to the Faculty of Architecture (later the School of the Built Environment).
In the light of this decision, Professor Haynes decided to amalgamate the pots retrieved from Bagot with his own collection of pots and other research data. His aim was to keep the unique collection intact with the ultimate goal of donating it to an appropriate institution. In his retirement, Professor Haynes intended to continue this writing and research on the Pottery in collaboration with colleagues. However, he was unable to carry out this work because of his own ill health.
Following the death of her husband and colleague (in the year 2000), Janice Haynes offered the collection to the Powerhouse Museum. This offer was accepted and the Museum now holds the major part of the collection. The Museum has also assisted in dispersing the remaining pieces to several specialist institutions: the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory holds 45pots; the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), Canberra, holds 4 pots and the original 35mm colour transparencies; the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, holds 12 pots; the Manly Art Gallery and Museum, Sydney, holds 19; and the Shepparton Art Gallery, Victoria, holds 42.
Written by Mrs J.M. Haynes, 2004, in collaboration with Catherine Reade, Assistant Curator, Powerhouse Museum.
Exhibition catalogue, 'Bagot Pottery and Bathurst Island Craft, 10-15 August', (introduction by Professor L.M. Haynes), Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery, 1970.
'The Appendices to the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee Set Up to Examine the Conclusions of the Committee to Advise the Vice-Chancellor and Principal on the Future of the Activities Embraced by the Department of Industrial Arts', vol.2, Faculty of Professional Studies, University of New South Wales, 1975.
Photos and film (to come) held by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra.
This collection of earthenware and stoneware pots was made between 1967 and 1974 by Indigenous potters training at the Ceramics Research Unit at Bagot, near Darwin. Established by the Department of Industrial Arts at the University of New South Wales, the Unit trained potters from Bathurst Island, Port Keats and other parts of the Northern Territory to make pots for the commercial market. Many of their works sold at small exhibitions in Darwin.
Leading the Department of Industrial Arts, Professor Leslie M. Hayes (1913-2000) collected these and other pots from the Unit, and purchased a small selection from exhibitions. In addition, he and his wife, Janice Haynes (formerly his research assistant), collected bark paintings and other Indigenous material while travelling between Sydney and Darwin. At the time of his retirement in 1978, Professor Haynes amalgamated this private collection with departmental data, notes, films, reports, slides and photographs to form an extensive research collection. He hoped to use this material to write a report on the unit, though could not complete this task due to ill health.
Following Professor Haynes' death in 2000, Janice Haynes offered the collection to the Powerhouse Museum, which assisted in dispersing the material to several specialist institutions. The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Studies (AIATSIS) in Canberra holds the films, photographs and five pots; the Powerhouse Museum owns the bulk of the pottery as well as the Departmental report (call no: 378.9441 UNI) and three bark paintings; while the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, the Queen Victoria Museum and Gallery, the Shepparton Art Gallery and the Manly Museum and Gallery share all but four of the pots that remain with Mrs Haynes.