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Artist BiographiesBiographies of Tiwi Islands Artists


Tiwi artists whose work appears on our web site and for whom we have short biographies are:

Ian Cook Mungatopi

Born: 1964
Region: Melville Island
Skin group: Stone
Dance: Crocodile
Mediums: Ochres on paper, bark and canvas

Timothy Cook

Born: 1958
Region: Goose Creek, Melville Island
Skin group: House fly
Dance: Shark
Mediums: Ochres on paper and canvas and printmaking.
Tim Cook

Timothy's work depicts the body designs used in the Pukamani ceremony, and is also closely linked to stories of Purrukuparli, the Tiwi mythological ancestor. It is characterised by a geometric structure of lines and dots with every line and marking having an important meaning. He began exhibiting his work in the late 1990s in group shows around Australia including Darwin, Melbourne, Alice Springs and Perth. His work is held in the National Gallery of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria. He was the overall winner of the 29th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2012.

Thecla Puruntatameri

Born: 1971
Region: Bathurst Island
Skin group: Wuliijula - Ironwood
Kirrilima - Jungle Fowl
Mediums: Ochres on paper and canvas, fabric design, pottery and printmaking.
Thecla Puruntatameri

Thecla has been working with Munupi Arts and Crafts since 1989. She is a screen printer, who prints fabric as well as making etchings, linoprints, paintings and pottery. Thecla has participated in printing workshops in Canberra (1998) and demonstrated printing at the Pacific Arts Festival Raratonga, cook Islands in 1992. She is currently the President of the Munupi Executive Committee. Her work has been exhibited extensively in many galleries over the last ten years, and her prints and other work are held in the major public collections in Australia.

Matthew Freddy Puruntatameri

Born: 1972
Region: Melville Island
Skin group: Pandanus
Dance: Owl
Mediums: Ochres on paper, bark, canvas and ironwood sculptures and spear and printmaking.
Matthew Freddy

Susan Wanji Wanji

Born: 1955
Region: Maningrida
Skin group: Miyatinga – Pandanus Tree
Mediums: Ochres, acrylic and gouache on paper, bark, canvas; limited edition lino prints and etchings. She is also a weaver and maker of Tunga (bark baskets) .
Susan Wanji Wanji

Susan grew up in Maningrida and as a young girl learnt to make bark paintings and intricately woven mats and baskets. She started working at Munupi Arts & Crafts in 1990 and has since developed a unique style that has influence from both Tiwi and Arnhem Land cultures. Her work has been displayed nationally and internationally and she has been a finalist in five Telstra National Aboriginal Art Awards. Her work is held in many public galleries.

Pedro Wonaemirri

Born: 1973
Region: Goose Creek, Melville Island
Skin group: Pandanus
Dance: Magpie goose
Mediums: Ochres on paper, bark, canvas and ironwood sculptures

Pedro is one of the younger, practising Tiwi artists. Also a traditional dancer, he first performed a Tiwi ceremonial dance in public in 1981 when he was only five years old, for the opening of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Darwin. During his secondary education his favourite subject was traditional dance.

His country is Goose Creek, where he hunts magpie geese; he is owner of the magpie goose dance. “Art work is very important for me. I use traditional ochres on canvas, paper, barks, tunga bags and ironwood sculptures. The tools I use for painting are traditional wooden combs made from bloodwood or ironwood timber - sometimes I use a brush. The images I paint are from Pukamani body designs used in ceremonies”.

He has exhibited in many group shows since 1992 and his work is included in installations at the Museum of Victoria, the National Gallery of Victoria, and the National Maritime Museum, Sydney. In 1996 he was awarded an Australia Council Fellowship.


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