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Art & About – Jilamara Arts, Munupi Arts and Ngaruwanajirri

Situated to the north of Darwin, the Tiwi Islands are home to a myriad of artists. Every August three island art centres hold a collaborative exhibition in the Darwin Festival, this year titled Yirringinkiri Pwoja.

Off The Leash spoke to art centre managers Jackie Hocking of Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association, Guy Allain of Munupi Arts and Joy Naden of Ngaruwanajirri about the art centres that form this well-reputed annual major event. 

How long have the centres been in operation?

JH: Jilamara became incorporated in 1989.

GA: In 1990 the Yikikini Women’s Centre and Pirlangimpi Pottery were incorporated under the name Munupi Arts and Crafts Association.

JN: Ngaruwanajirri has been operating since 1994.

How many artists are represented?

JH: Up to 50 artists are represented by Jilamara.

GA: Munupi has over 200 registered artists with about 40 very commited artists, of a total population in Pirlangimpi of approximately 370 people.

JN: 10, a mixture of able and disabled carvers. 

What is the vision and core values of the centres? 

JH: Jilamara’s vision is that Tiwi art and culture is strong and lives through our young people, and that our art centre is a creative place where artists work, learn and grow together with respect, shared experience and knowledge. Our art is traditional and of a high quality.

GA: Munupi Arts and Craft is a vibrant social enterprise supporting the people of Pirlangimpi to express and celebrate their unique identity and knowledge. Our arts and cultural programs help to relieve poverty, suffering and distress by raising social esteem, encouraging young people and providing training and employment in a safe and healthy space for artists and others to work. 

JN: Ngaruwanajirri started as a supported employment program for Tiwi with a disability. The workshop, now an art centre, strives to provide a safe, calm and creative environment for some of the most disadvantaged members of the community. 

In addition to your annual Darwin Festival event, do the centres work together for other joint exhibitions or collaborations? 

JH: We all sell work during the annual Tiwi Grand Final Art Sale in March on Bathurst Island, as well as at the biennial TARNANTHI festival in Adelaide.

How can people visit the art centres? 

JN: To visit Ngaruwanajirri Arts, Tiwi Tours come by plane and ferry from Darwin to Bathurst Island. 

JH: To visit Munupi Arts and Jilamara Arts you can catch a charter flight to Melville Island.

Do you sell work in Darwin galleries? 

JH: Jilamara has regular exhibitions with Nomad Art Gallery and Outstation Gallery.

GA: Munupi has exhibitions and representations in the NT including Nomad Art Gallery, Northern Centre for Contemporary Art and Outstation Gallery. Munupi also has ongoing representation with various commercial galleries in Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Victor Harbor, Greece, France and Singapore.

JN: Nomad Gallery sells carvings, paintings and silk scarves from Ngaruwanajirri. 

See the event listing.


Image: Artists at Munupi Arts

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