Established in 1989, Munupi Arts is located at Pirlangimpi (Garden Point / Pularumpi) on Melville Island’s north-west coast, facing Bathurst Island across the Apsley Strait. Melville and Bathurst Islands are located 100 kilometres north of Darwin and are home to the Tiwi people. The Dundas Strait separates Melville and Bathurst Islands from mainland Australia. Melville Island is Australia’s largest island after Tasmania.
Susan Wanji Wanji, Hunting at Johnson Bay (detail)
The contemporary art from Munupi is strongly influenced by the ancient art of ceremonial body painting, or jilamara. Jilamara designs are also found on Pukumani poles (mortuary poles) and tungas (bark baskets). The traditional form of mark making was derived from the creation story. Designs are traditionally applied in ochres with a pwjoa (traditional wooden comb) or fingers.
The creative emphasis is on the strength of design rather than narrative, although the patterns are symbolic of the creation stories and the environment. Tiwi art is continuously evolving, and it is common to find historical events interwoven with jilamara.