The Museum has a long tradition of interest and support for the artists associated with Hermannsburg, acquiring its first watercolour in 1975, an untitled landscape by Claude Pannka (1928 – 1972). Gifted by Miss ME Wharmby, the watercolour is one of 140 early works from the Lutheran settlement.
Research and collecting from the mid 1980’s lead to the development of The Heritage of Namatjira, a major exhibition curated by Angela Tidmarsh and JVS Megaw that toured nationally between 1992 and 1993. This initiative and the accompanying publications (both catalogue and richly illustrated book of the same name edited by Jane Hardy, M Ruth Megaw and JVS Megaw) provided the first comprehensive scholarship on the art, life and legacy of Albert Namatjira (1902 – 1959), the most famous of the Hermannsburg painters.
The Hermannsburg collection consists of watercolours and artefacts by artists from the first generations such as Albert Namatjira and his sons Oscar, Ewald and Maurice, as well as Clem Abbott, Walter Ebataringa, Cordula Ebataringa and Wenten Pengarte Rubuntja. The Museum’s continued support and interest in Arrernte watercolours is evident in the development of the recent exhibition, Hermannsburg: echoes in the landscape, 2011, presented in collaboration with Ngurratjuta Iltja Ntjarra ‘Many Hands’ Art Centre. Curated by Alison French, the exhibition traced the origins and efflorescence of the Hermannsburg School from its beginnings in the late 1930s to 2011. The project resulted in the acquisition of a number of current generation artists such as Mervyn Rubuntja, Gloria Pannka, Lenie Namatjira and Hubert Pareroultja.
Gloria Pannka (born 1953) Luritja, North-west of Alice Springs near Hamilton Downs (detail), 2007, watercolour on paper, 36 x 49 cm (image), Gift of Emeritus Professor JVS Megaw and M Ruth Megaw, Flinders University Art Museum 4520, © the artist and Ngurratjuta Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art Centre, Photograph Chantel Mazurkiewicz