Art Centre

Tiwi Art Network | Tiwi Islands

Tiwi Art

The Tiwi Art Network is an alliance between the three art centres on the Tiwi Islands:

The Tiwi Art Network is a not for profit Aboriginal Corporation. For every item of artwork sold, the bulk of the money is returned to the artist and the remainder is put back into the operations of the art centres and the Tiwi Art Network.

The network has developed its own products including a range of Tiwi jewellery and printed silk scarves. The Tiwi Art Network facilitates Art Buying Trips where art enthusiasts are flown to the islands to visit the three art centres and meet the artists. The network has a gallery space in Parap, Darwin.

Tiwi art is distinctly different from other Aboriginal art, even from that of their neighbours in Arnhem Land. Tiwi Islanders continuously practice the art of body painting (jilamara) for ceremonial purposes. The patterning used is primarily decorative with an emphasis on strength of design rather than narrative. These designs are now translated onto a variety of media.

Tiwi Art Network, Ochre The three art centres are committed to the development and promotion of both traditional and contemporary art and craft in the form of painting, pottery, carving, weaving, etchings, linocuts, lithographs, jewellery and screen printed textiles.

Ochre is an inherent part of Tiwi life. The natural earth pigments are collected and used to adorn the body for ceremonial purposes during Pukumani (funeral) and Kulama (initiation/yam) ceremonies. Artists on the Tiwi Islands predominantly use natural ochres to honour and reflect their traditional culture, which is an intrinsic part of Tiwi life.

Each artist interprets Jilamara in a unique and distinctive fashion. This is demonstrated by the varied styles that are now noticeable in Tiwi art. Designs can be organised and uniform, creating a structured and sophisticated aesthetic, or free flowing and gestural.

“A characteristic element found in Tiwi art is the geometric abstract designs relating to sacred or significant sites and seasonal changes. Geometric abstraction is the basis for the shapes of tradtional carvings such as pukumani poles used in burial ceremonies as well as basic imagery on barks and, more recently, on fabric, paper, pottery, canvas and jewellery. Abstract pattern give the works a unique formalised quality but also allows for strong personal interpretation.”

Visit the Tiwi Art website >>