Pwoja – Body Paint Design

Dymphna Kerinaiua

Artwork Year



96 x 58 cm


Natural ochers on canvas


Tiwi art is inextricably linked to Tiwi creation stories and is often characterised by an abstract mixture of lines, dots and form originating from the decorative body paint used by the Tiwi during ceremonies. This contemporary work rarely has a narrative story associated with it however sculptural work often portrays key characters from the creation stories. Pedro Wonaeamirri, current vice president of Jilamara, describes Tiwi art in the following manner, ‘It is about Tiwi life and Tiwi culture. Purukuparli first started up the Tiwi culture by singing and dancing, this was at the beginning of Tiwi art and life, east of Melville Island’.

All the artists of Jilamara have unique and individual styles, some adhering very closely to Tiwi traditions by employing a wooden comb to apply dots to their canvas or sculpture, others using coconut sticks and some using contemporary western brushes to make their individual marks. Transcending all these individual styles are characteristics which are unique to the Tiwi artists from Jilamara on Melville Island.

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