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Tiwi Prints: A Commemorative exhibition 1969-1997

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


16 Sep 1997 to 26 Oct 1997

Curator: Djon Mundine

about the exhibition

Tiwi Design was established in 1969 at Nguiu on Bathurst Island, north of Darwin, as a workshop for printing on both paper and fabric. It soon became a model for similar successful indigenous arts ventures throughout Australia. In the course of renovations of the print workshop building in the early 1990s, some early wood-blocks from the workshops first two years were discovered. These original wood-blocks were included in this exhibition together with a commemorative limited edition of new prints made from them. A special portfolio of 32 linocut prints made in 1995 by various artists from the area was also presented.

Having been isolated from the mainland for much of their history, the art of the Tiwi people of Bathurst and Melville Islands have many unique features. The designs of the Tiwi were traditionally abstract and based on body painting. At the time when Tiwi Design was established, the influence of missionaries had strongly encouraged figurative images of plant and animal life. However, more recent prints showed a shift back to non-representational designs which were adapted from those of an earlier time.

This exhibition was part of the Festival of the Dreaming, the first of four Olympic Arts Festivals. It was assisted by ATSIC and developed in association with Tiwi Designs.

Featuring Works from the MCA Collection

Giovanni Tipungwuti
  • Arlipiwura (pelican)