Australia Community News Weekly

Beyond Attica: Art of Magna Graecia A new exhibition at the Hellenic Museum

Opening Friday 15 March at the Hellenic Museum, the exhibition Beyond Attica: Art of Magna Graecia is a unique collection of Attic black-figure and south Italian red-figure vases, dating from the 6th century to 4th century BCE.


Until the fifth century BCE South Italian settlements imported their pottery from Corinth and Athens.

By the end of the Peloponnesian War in 404 BCE, Athenian pot production and trade had declined and cities in South Italy began to manufacture pottery locally.

The five regions in South Italy: Lucania, Apulia, Campania, Paestum and Sicily produced significant amounts of pottery between 440 and 300 BCE.
While these areas were both politically independent and culturally unique regions of the Greek world, they nevertheless drew influence from Athenian pottery shape, design, and iconography.

Working with these Attic models, South Italian painters and potters developed their own styles and shapes- distinguishing them from their counterparts in mainland Greece.

A distinct preference for added colour especially white, yellow and red, is characteristic of South Italian vases in the fourth century BCE.
Pottery was a ubiquitous part of ancient Greek life.

Through subject matter, shape and find location of vases, the contemporary viewer can learn a great deal about life in both mainland Greece, and the South Italian and Sicilian settlements often referred to as Magna Graecia (Great Greece).

For instance, most extant South Italian vases have been discovered in funerary contexts, and a significant number of these vases were likely produced solely as grave goods.
This function is demonstrated by the vases of various shapes and sizes that are open at the bottom, rendering them useless for the living.

Consequently, the examination of ancient pottery from both Athens and South Italy demonstrates not only the spread of Greek life and culture, it also attests to the cultural richness of Greek-speaking settlements.

On loan from the Koumantatakis Family, this exhibition presents a selection of pots ranging from early Athenian black-figure to later Apulian, Campanian, and Lucanian red-figure pottery.

This collection is significant in its scope of style and regional variations; providing the viewer with a comparative and broad selection of ancient Greek pottery, not limited to a single time period or region.

For more information and/or to schedule an interview with the curator please contact Hayley Stoneham projects@hellenic.org.au