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THE TIWI

ART FROM JILAMARA & MUNUPI ARTISTS


“You can think back to the old days, but always remember: you’re not there yourself. It’s like a little tree that grows into a big tree. When you start to become an artist you watch your elders, learn the songs and the dances - then you make your own way.”

“It’s been like that from a long time ago, and so today: we’re living in white society but we have our own tradition - and it goes on too. I’m talking about the decision I made; that’s what I thought about: the way to become a Tiwi artist, going onward into the future.”

Pedro Wonaeamirri, Artist & President Jilamara Arts & Crafts

Cover image: TIMOTHY COOK, Untitled, 78 x 78 inches, ochers on linen, Jilamara Arts #155-13 Right: CORNELIA TIPUNGWUTI (detail) Untitled, 59 x 31 inches, ochers on linen, Munupi Arts #412COR412


Ancient Rythmns: The Art of the Tiwi It is not going too far to say the Tiwi are a separate Indigenous people. Tiwi Elders say ‘We are Tiwi – we are not mainlanders’. They don’t want to pretend to be better than or more this or that than Aboriginal mainlanders but they are definitely a different culture. This group exhibition brings together for the first time in the USA, the rich ancestral histories of the Tiwi by artists from the leading art centers of Jilamara & Munupi. The carved and painted Pukumani poles throughout the forests of Bathurst and Melville Islands, the land of the Tiwi people, have inspired Australian collectors, curators and artists for a century. Tiwi culture, history and traditional stories are vividly expressed through lines, patterns and colours, in carvings, and in their modern paintings, prints on paper and fabric, and pottery. The Tiwi Islands (Bathurst Island and Melville Island) are located 100 km north of Darwin. The Islands are home to this unique regional Australian cultural group with a fascinating history, geography, cultural practices and ceremonies. Despite its’ relative proximity to the mainland, a 25 minute plane ride - its ecosystem, snaking waterways, hidden waterfalls and forests, which hide the slowly decaying Pukamani (burial) poles of ancestors amongst the Pandanus palms, are pristine. The beaches are breath taking, brilliant white sand, ochre cliffs, clear and clean water is abundant with vast sea life. For the Tiwi the art of body painting design (Jilamara) for siginificant ceremony has been practised for thousands of years. Ochers are collected and used to adorn the body for such ceremonial purposes during Pukumani (funeral) and Kulama (initiation/yam) ceremonies. Artists on the Tiwi Islands predominantly use natural ochers to honour and reflect their traditional culture, which is an intrinsic part of Tiwi life. Today, much of the natural ocher on the Island, historically applied to the body and face with ironwood combs are now depicted on the artwork. This most traditional Tiwi painting implement - or “pwoja,” is used for painting the bodies of participants in ceremonial dance. As prominent Australian journalist Nicholas Rothwell writes: ‘ Pwoja marks are central to Tiwi art: they are the straight-line dots one sees on old barks or carved poles. Their patterns can be recognised on skin, on canvas, on hardwood, on a rough square of stringy-bark. In the Tiwi language, the word “pwoja” designates not just a comb cut from ironwood but a piece taken


Background image: Kitty Kantilla, Untitled (detail) 12.5 x 25 inches, etching, Jilamara Arts #ET1-AP3

from the body : hence the bone and the marks the pwoja makes. Like ochre pigment, the comb comes from the living landscape, and moves into the frame of man’s created works. ‘ There is no ‘story’ as such for individual paintings. The main themes relate to the Pukumani ceremony and pwoja (body painting). Yet each artist interprets Jilamara in a unique and distinctive fashion. Designs can be organised and uniform as evident in the work of Pedro Wonaeamirri, Janice Murray & Susan Wanji Wanji or in striking contrast, free flowing & gestural as seen in paintings by Timothy Cook, Conrad Tipunguwuti and Cornelia Tipungwuti. All are unmistakably Tiwi in their spiritual iconography. The community of Milikapiti (Snake Bay) with a population of around 400 is home of Jilamara Art Center, where 40 artists work regularly. Jilamara Arts & Crafts Association was established in 1989 & soon became widely recognised for distinctive paintings and carved works. Key figures in this development were the ‘two old ladies’ of Jilamara, Kitty Kantilla (C.1928-2003) and Freda Warlapinni (C.1928-2003) and carver Paddy Freddy Puruntatameri (c.1925-2000) - eager to see the tradition of carving continue. These distinguished elders have greatly influenced the current generation of Jilamara artists including Pedro Wonaeamirri who, under the guidance of Kantilla has not only established himself as an award winning artist but signicantly is one of the regions dedicated cultural leaders preserving tiwi tradition for the future. Like Jilamara, at Pirlangimpi (Garden Point) Munupi is a multi-generational art centre, a meeting place for all community residents, where stories, cultural practice and skills are shared between young and old. Loud music spills out from the original tin sheds between 9 and 4 every day, accompanied by an ever boiling water urn for the hundreds of cups of tea shared throughout the day. A small open fire burns out the back by the carving shed, to roast fresh mud muscles and other delicacies of the sea. The Munupi Art Centre is now in its 24th year and will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2014. Harvey Art Projects USA gratefully acknowledges the support of Mike & Anisha Stitfold, Mangers of Munupi Art & Geoff Crispin Manager of Jilamara Arts & Crafts. Special thanks to our visiting guest artist Mr Pedro Wonaeamirri and the participiating artists in mounting this first time joint Tiwi USA exhibition.


SUSAN WANJI WANJI Untitled, 39 x 72 inches ocher on linen, Munupi Arts #SW414


Left: TIMOTHY COOK, Pole Carving, 54” height ocher on ironwood, Jilamara Arts #663-12 LINUS WARLAPINNI, Pole Carving, 43” height ocher on ironwood, Jilamara Arts #93-10 Right: FRANCESCA PURUNTATAMERI, Jilamara, 96 x 79 inches ocher on linen, Munupi Arts #12FRA178


SANDRA PURUNTATAMERI, Jilamara Design, 47 x 31 inches, ocher on llnen, Munupi Arts #13SAN07


DELORES ORSTO, Jilamara Design, 47 x 32 inches, ocher on canvas, Munupi Arts #13DEL13


CONRAD TIPUNGWUTI, Untitled, 35 x 26 inches, natural ochers on linen, Jilamara Arts #618-113


JOSEPHINE BURAK, Tapalinga, 36 x 36 inches, ocher & natural binders on linen, Munupi Arts #10JB136


Josephine Burak Timothy Cook Debbie Coombes Raelene Kerinauia Kitty Kantilla Nicolas Mario Janice Murray Delores Orsto Natalie Puantulura Sandra Puruntatameri Nina Puruntatameri Francesca Puruntatameri Conrad Tipungwuti Cornelia Tipuamantumerri Diane Tipungwuti Susan Wanji Wanji Linus Warlapinni Pedro Wonaeamirri

PEDRO WONAEAMIRRI, Untitled 47 x 24 inches natural ochers on canvas, Jilamara Arts #485-10


THE TIWI: ART FROM JILAMARA & MUNUPI ARTISTS on view July-Aug 2013 Sun Valley, USA 391 1st Avenue North Ketchum, ID 83340 USA info@harveyartprojects.com (208) 309-8676

HarveyArtProjects.com

We Are Tiwi  

Jilamara & Munupi Artists USA Exhibit July 1- 30 2013

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