STRONG TIWI: a series of paintings and carvings

STRONG TIWI showcases one of the oldest and most artistically diverse art centres in Australia – Tiwi Design. Featuring a curated collection of paintings and carvings, STRONG TIWI aims to promote the traditional and contemporary practices of Tiwi artists.

Tiwi Design is home to over 100 First Nations artists working across a range of mediums, including: canvas, bark, ironwood carvings, textiles, sculpture, and print. Looking particularly at ochre paintings and ironwood carvings, STRONG TIWI is an expression of Tiwi peoples and cultures with many of the works representing traditional Kulama and Pukumani ceremonies. The Kulama ceremony is an annual celebration that occurs towards the end of the wet season, involving three days and three nights of ritual body painting (Jilamara), singing, dancing and eating.

…very important to Tiwi. When the rain finishes, the Tiwi start Kulama. Kulama ceremony is good for health, good hunting, initiation and good marriage. - Tiwi Artist, Maria Josette Orsto on Kulama Ceremony

The Pukumani is an important ceremony ensuring one’s spirit moves across from this life to the next. Occurring six months after the deceased has been buried, Pukumani ceremonies play an extremely important role in Tiwi culture and everyday life. Pukumani is an artistic expression of song, dance, and body painting that allows the Tiwi community a public space to express grief.

Tiwi Design is located at Nguiu on the southeastern corner of Bathurst Island, 80km north of Darwin. It started in a small room underneath the Catholic Presbytery on Bathurst Island in 1968. Two young men, Bede Tungatalum and Giovanni Tipungwuti worked with the art teacher from the school, Madeline Clear, to produce wood block prints. From humble beginnings, Tiwi Design is now an award-winning art centre, fostering young and senior artists to express the breadth and depth of First Nations culture. Come see this jaw-dropping exhibition for yourself at our new harbour-side home, we're open Monday-Saturday 10am-4pm or online. 

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