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An image of Untitled by Kutuwulumi Purawarrumpatu

Kutuwulumi Purawarrumpatu

(Australia circa 1928 – 04 Oct 2003)

Language group
Tiwi, North region
Place of origin
Melville IslandNorthern TerritoryAustralia
Media category
Materials used
natural organic pigments on linen canvas

115.8 x 77.6 cm stretcher

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Purchased 2002
Accession number
© Kutuwulumi Purawarrumpatu, Jilamara Arts and Crafts. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney,
Not on display
Further information

The specific geometric designs that are the hallmark of Tiwi art are usually applied to a dark background. In a bold move around 1997 Kutuwulumi reversed this aesthetic and began to produce paintings of delicately painted dots and lines on white. The white background helped give the paintings a light, ethereal quality and marked a strong contrast with her previous works painted on black such as the three works in the Art Gallery of New South Wales collection, acquired in 1995.

The decorative motif mulypinyini amintiya pwanga (lines and dots) forms a common basis for many of the abstract designs that are said to have no specific meaning. The imagery in these paintings, like that of most Tiwi art, is derived from the jilimara or ceremonial body painting and the decoration applied to Pukamani funeral poles and associated ritual objects made for the Pukamani ceremony. Traditionally the participants in funeral ceremonies decorate themselves with a rich variety of ochre designs so as to conceal their true identity from harm by malevolent mapurtiti (spirits of the dead). Thus Tiwi art generally avoids reference to totems, Dreamings, or stories connected with the palaneri or Creation Period.

Kutuwulumi is the oldest and most renowned artist working at Jilimara and is reputedly the only artist to still paint in the old style. She is still dynamically exploring possibilities and innovations in her art.

Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2002

Exhibition history (3)

An exhibition of work by Kutuwalumi Purawarrumpatu (Kitty Kantilla), Aboriginal and Pacific Art Gallery, Sydney, 29 Nov 2001–22 Dec 2001

Kitty Kantilla Kutuwalumi Purawarrumpatu:

The Dreamers (2009-10), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 09 May 2009–15 Aug 2010