The wider impacts of The Hermannsburg School
From the mid 1940s, when sellout exhibitions triumphed in the capital cities, tourists sought to buy paintings on visits to Central Australia. Being an art of emotion, the romantic landscapes appealed readily to ‘middlebrow’ tastes of the attentive public, while scholarly critics were not trained to assess the conceptual spiritual nature of Aboriginal art made for sale rather than for ceremony for ‘those in the know’.
It was too soon to recognise the movement as a particular modernism of a particular place. It was quite unlike the romantic expressionist form of modernism of Melbourne and Sydney.
Scholarly culture was uneducated about contact Aboriginal art and culture and, like art historian Bernard Smith,  scholars skirted around issues of such aboriginality.
Interest in Central Australia flowered. Tourism boomed, creating a tourist market for visitors to Hermannsburg and Alice Springs.
The Hermannsburg School became, as Christopher Heathcote observed, an art phenomenon of sorts when the Arrernte watercolourists enjoyed what he called a brief moment of fame.  The phenomenon occurred in an era when the long standing mindset of white Australia and government was that Aborigines were a dying race and would be assimilated into the general population.
The art was of a particular place and in a particular modified culture and the artists’ heart and soul mindset was tied up in their country in a way in which their audience could only wonder. Thus the paintings could be read by those so inclined as the art of the assimilated, in ignorance of the artists’ perspectives as uniquely cultured people of Ntaria.
Albert Namatjira was an initiated man who had accepted Christianity. Guided by Rex Battarbee, Albert aimed to create paintings which a white artist might produce, but his familiarity with secular traditional infill decoration is occasionally apparent. Albert disguised traditional infill diamond and dot patterning as landscape with rows of dots and lines of diamonds applied to suggest trees and foothills.
A good example in a public collection is Albert Namatjira’s Mt Connor, near the Musgrave Ranges c.1953-59 (NGA 2002) 
The younger men were more open and relaxed about using these traditional infill patterns as art devices. While inspiring each other, they tended to develop individual stylisations in patterning of rock and landscape features. Perhaps this was through human nature, perhaps subconsciously in portraying their understanding of totemic spiritual qualities, perhaps to assert individual distinctiveness.
As the first Aboriginal art movement, their art reflected their traditional religion and culture unobtrusively and did not offend the Missionaries who would not accept hints of other beliefs existing alongside theirs. It was sufficient for the artists to let their paintings speak for themselves, without explanation of the myths involved and without use of Arrernte names of sites. As they were not asked, the artists did not think to give general explanatory descriptions.
The artists adapted from the practice of ground drawing, which occurred in ceremony involving song and rhythmic dance, and in which there is an even emphasis of all elements (dispersed focus) without limit to boundaries of designs.
Watercolour art was confined to the shape of the paper support. In coming to terms with the confined shape of the paper support, the area toward the edges was sometimes busier than in the centre of compositions, in contrast to the unlimited boundaries of ground expression. A single focal point in pictorial art is a European convention of the Italian renaissance. Hermannsburg art persisted with a more general or even focus.
Ceremonies or corroborees were events in which Aboriginal people interacted with the Dreaming, that is their eternal perspective on the continuity of life.  (Catherine and Ronald Berndt pp 56-57) Sacred ceremonies were for the initiated few, while other more secular events might involve families, especially as people entertained themselves every night. Sacred ceremony required excellence in design and decoration, along with body paint, rhythmic movement and song in order to achieve the objective. Repetition was central to preserving spiritual continuity.
Employment in the activity of painting scenic pictures of the sites of their countries suited the lifestyles of the artists, who could spend periods camping at locations or elsewhere by painting from memory. Memory painting was a valid element of traditional expression in ceremony, unlike the assumptions of the European landscape tradition which preferred at least the sketch or planning to be made on site.
The watercolour movement was of a body of related artists of a modified traditional culture who were able to reach out from their community and give voice pictorially to their individual and collective knowledge and sentiments.
In their traditional understanding, their totemic country was created through the activities of ancestors on their travels. In painting the appearance of country they were not challenging the traditional religion but respecting and accommodating strictures relating to concealing the meaning of the topography.
Like scientists, their knowledge was built on the knowledge of each other as each made his or her painting contribution. As humans, they sometimes idealised and fantasised about their country. Symptoms of emotional release of underlying anxieties are perhaps suggested in the tendency to idealise the anchor of their loved country. Perhaps it helped them cope with the massive cultural and social changes that they were ill-equipped to manage coming from a change-averse culture which emphasised continuity of their world through repetition.
White people were unaware of the profound importance of the ancient legends in Aboriginal life and art. However, the glorious Arrernte watercolours were easy to appreciate and the public responded intuitively.
The paintings reflect high morale as far as the artists’ relationship to their countries was concerned. The Aboriginal artists belonged to country, whereas the white audience thought of themselves in terms of their western tradition whereby the country belonged to them. The paintings were sometimes created in circumstances of stresses of mid-twentieth century cultural change in Central Australia.