The art of decorative painting for ceremony has been practised for thousands of years on the Tiwi Islands, including the decorative patterning of Pukumani poles (mortuary poles) and tungas (bark baskets).
More recently these decorative forms have been applied to a variety of media including textiles, print making, pottery, pandanus weaving and jewellery making.
This Jam Factory exhibition presents a collection of tungas – traditional bark baskets made from the stringy bark tree – created by the artists of Tiwi Design. Tiwi Design is one of the oldest and most artistically diverse art centres in Australia. the aim of the corporation is to promote, preserve and enrich Tiwi culture.
The traditional form of mark making used on the tungas is derived from the creation story, with the art form acting as a living evolving expression of Tiwi culture. Within Tiwi art the placement of line and dot is distinctive, the continuous patterning is primarily decorative with the emphasis on strength of design rather than narrative.
The tungas are traditionally used during the final Pukamani (or burial) ceremony, large tungas called Yimwalini are filled with gifts for the dancers, then upturned on top of the Pukamani pole to ensure the deceased would not haunt the living, but instead travel safely to the spirit world.
Ngawa ngampirriporlipirri Wangatunga palaji (we are carrying stringy bark baskets) includes works by Jean Baptiste Apuatimi, Maria Josette Orsto, Rosyln Orsto, Jock Puautjimi and Immaculata Tipiloura.
The exhibition opens on Friday 28 October at 6pm.