Jurrukukini, Maymampi, Jarranga, Muputi, Yirikapaye (Owl, Magpie Goose, Buffalo, Fish, Crocodile)

Curated by Hannah Raisin and William Heathcote




This exhibition brings together the work of three artists Patrick Freddy Puruntatameri, Janice Murray and Chris Black from Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association on Melville Island. Jurrukukini, Maymampi, Jarranga, Muputi, Yirikapaye will feature contemporary Tiwi works celebrating jilamara (body paint design) and ancestral animal totems that inform Tiwi cultural and familial identities.

In Tiwi creation stories parlingarri (olden times) often refers to an era before mortality came to Tiwi people – when distinctions between humans, animals and the landscape were more fluid. Individuals in these narratives sculpt the landscape with their bodies and sometimes take on animal form.         

Ningani (today) there remains a strong practice of acknowledging people’s totems; animal groups such as Jilarti (Brolga), Jurrukuni (Owl), Yirikapaye (crocodile) and Jarranga (buffalo) that are given to children based on complex family and tribe (skin group) relations.

Patrick Freddy Puruntatameri, Janice Murray and Chris Black manifest these considerations in different and unique approaches, the works create a conversation between representations of Tiwi animal totems and jilamara (designs) traditionally applied to the skin for ceremony.



About Jilamara Arts

Established as an adult education centre in the 1980s, Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association was incorporated as an indigenous governed art centre in 1989. For over 30 years the artists working at Jilamara have been translating the patterns, imagery and stories of “jilamara” (body paint designs) into ochre paintings on bark, canvas, linen, paper, ironwood carvings and print. Still using natural white, yellow and red ochres exclusively sourced on country, Jilamara artists are nationally and internationally renowned for their unique, Tiwi style and colour palette. They produce contemporary works based on ceremonial body painting designs, clan totems and Tiwi creation stories.

Artwork by Jilamara artists are held in major collections around the world including the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of NSW, Levi-Kaplan Collection (USA), The British Museum (UK) and Musée du quai Branly (Fr).




Christopher Black is part of the Miartuwee Clan. He creates colourful compositions of jilamara (Tiwi body paint designs), various types of fish found around Melville Island and the Jarrangini (Buffalo). He paints his unique contemporary styles with natural earth pigments collected from around Milikapiti


Janice Murray is an accomplished artist practicing painting, printmaking and carving. Born, in Milikapiti, Murray’s practice narrates stories about birds and Purukapali. The designs on body, face and canvas relate to her country, Yimpinari


Patrick Freddy Puruntatameri is well known for skillfull carvings of his totem the jurrukukuni (owl). He manages the Jilmara carving workshop and is a mentor for younger artists learning traditional Tiwi carving and jilamara (body paint design)

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