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Internationalism & Regionalism in Pottery

Video clip synopsis – Whereas Sydney artist Anne Dangar moved to France to focus on cubist design in ceramics, Merric Boyd and Milton Moon looked to the Australian landscape for inspiration for their pottery.
Year of production - 2006
Duration - 5min 0sec
Tags - art, artists, Betty Churcher, pottery, see all tags


Internationalism & Regionalism in Pottery

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About the Video Clip


Internationalism & Regionalism in Pottery is an episode of the series Hidden Treasures (15 × 5 mins) produced in 2006.

The National Gallery of Australia has more than 100,000 works in its collection—an extraordinary reservoir of creative vision and cultural history, from decorative arts to photography and sculpture.

Yet on a visit to the gallery, you’ll see only the tip of this iceberg. Carefully stored away are the things that can’t be placed on permanent display.

These unseen gems include works of exquisite fragility, from brilliant hand-painted fabrics to delicate works on paper. From Australia, the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania, there are masks and carvings, lithographs and linocuts, set designs and stage costumes, sketchpads and handprinted books, marionettes and maquettes, teapots and textiles, and much, much more.

Now in this series of micro-docs, former director of the gallery Betty Churcher presents an insider’s guide to some of these 'hidden treasures’.

In the entertaining, accessible style for which she is renowned, Betty Churcher takes us behind the scenes, sharing with us her passion and insights. From her unique vantage point, she makes intriguing connections between a range of different objects and artists, linking them to the stories that surround them.

These are fascinating tales—about the works themselves, the people who created them and the challenge of preserving them—and a tantalising look at some of the ideas and influences that have shaped modern art across the globe.

A Film Australia National Interest Program in association with Early Works. Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Full program credits

Curriculum Focus


Students observe, research and critically discuss a range of contemporary, traditional, stylistic, historical and cultural examples of artworks. They analyse, interpret, compare and evaluate the stylistic, technical, expressive and aesthetic features of art works created by a range of artists and made in particular times and cultural contexts. They use appropriate arts language and, in the arts works they are exploring and responding to, refer to specific examples. They comment on the impact of arts works, forms and practices on other artworks and society in general.

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


Anne Dangar left Sydney in 1930 at the age of 43 to throw in her lot with French artist Albert Gleizes, who’d set up an artists’ colony in rural France.

Gleizes was a second-generation cubist who wanted to introduce cubist design to the everyday life of ordinary people by applying abstract modernism to the artisan crafts of country folk. His workshop offered artists an escape from the standardisation of industrial mass-production and, for Dangar, this became almost a spiritual cause.

Dangar dedicated her life selflessly to Gleizes’ ideal. Trained as a painter, she mastered the art of pottery and built her own kiln using traditional peasant methods. Her own work displays a real flair for applied cubist design and exciting colour combinations.

Merric Boyd chose his own way to return to nature, at his bush property at Murrumbeena on the outskirts of Melbourne. His bowls were handbuilt, his kiln woodfired, and his clay dug from the earth around his home. Unlike Dangar, he drew inspiration, not from international style, but from the bushland that surrounded his property, where he and his wife Doris established the famous Boyd dynasty of painters, potters and sculptors.

Although not the first to use Australian motifs in his pottery, Merric Boyd’s idiosyncratic pots and vases raised the use of Australiana in design to new levels of artistry and public popularity.

Milton Moon’s inspiration is also the landscape of Australia—not the things of the bush but the ancient, sunbaked, bushfire-blackened land itself.

Both Moon and Boyd travelled widely but, unlike Dangar, they decided to draw their strength from the land of their birth. In a sense, regionalism and nationalism prevailed over internationalism.

Classroom Activities

  1. Research and discuss how Albert Gleizes influenced Anne Dangar’s art during her time at Moly-Sabata in the French village of Sablons.
  2. Research and discuss how Anne Dangar, Milton Moon and Merric Boyd used the land of their birth as inspiration in their art. Confirm your ideas with examples of the artists’ imagery.
  3. Create a non-objective design from a section of a selected art image. Your composition should focus on the principles of design. A viewfinder may be moved around the selected art piece to frame a very small section of the composition. The composition of the final selected section should be complex with some detailed and some ambiguous areas.
    1. Select a large piece of paper for the final drawing. Draw a rectangle a little larger than the proportion of the viewfinder anywhere on the paper and draw what is seen in the viewfinder into this rectangle. Draw an enlarged version of the composition in the background. Do not draw through the rectangle. Add shapes to the background to make the composition more interesting.
      Any materials can be used for this project, although you may choose to use the materials and techniques seen in Albert Gleizes’ artworks.
    2. Use four colours plus black and white. Colours can be analogous, complementary, split complementary or monochromatic.
    3. Begin by applying colour to the rectangle; when the rectangle is complete, begin work on the background. The goal is to create the background as if the rectangle is floating above it.

Further Resources


Vincent McGrath, ‘Landscape, Land and Nature’ in The Journal of Australian Ceramics, Volume 41 No. 1, Apr 2002, p. 16

Milton Moon, The Human Art, The Useful Art: Selected Memoirs of a Potter, Milton Moon, c. 1999

Albert Gleizes

Sablons – Moly-Sabata et le cubisme: Albert Gleizes

National Gallery of Australia: Anne Dangar at Moly-Sabata

Milton Moon, Potter