Welcome to Sydney's Festival of Tiwi Art — the focal point being the exhibition Being Tiwi at the Museum of Contemporary Art. XAP welcomed the eminent artists in Tiwi Mamirnikuwi Jilamara / Tiwi Women Painting: Raelene Kerinauia, Nina Puruntatameri and Delores Tipuamantumirri representing her mother Cornelia Tipuamantumirri. Other eminent artists in Being Tiwi also spoke on the art centres, formerly women’s centres: Pedro Wonamerri and Maria Josette Orsto, as did Jilamara and Munupi Arts & Crafts managers Mike Stitford and Adrian McCann. Tiwi Mamirnikuwi Jilamara / Tiwi Women Painting presents ten artists, whose birth dates span sixty years (or 3 generations), showing the artists’ immense innovation and stylistic diversity mostly in pursuit of the power of classic stories and ceremonies: the Kulama (or yam initiation) which celebrates life and knowledge, and the complex funeral ritual, the Pukumani. Both these art centres began as women’s centres and is an exploration of feminist genealogies tracing matriarchal and collegiate relationships between women over four decades. Women Elders at Milikapiti say: 'We want to look after our strong culture. We are not white people. … Now it is our turn for the younger generation to take over.' (In Jennifer Isaacs, Tiwi: art, history, culture, 2012, p. 304.)
The show is Part of Contemporary Art and Feminism, an independent research cluster looking at the profound impact that Indigenous feminism has had on the Australian art world over the past 4 decades. The project draws attention to the fact that Aboriginal contemporary art history includes many art centres founded by women artists and that these female artist elders are worthy of respect. It is attentive to gender politics in contemporary exhibition making and the often unexamined artworld hierarchies and distinctions. 'Tiwi Women Painting’ completes a trilogy of exhibitions: ‘Mother to Daughter’, from Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre at Yirrkala in NE Arnhem Land and Ngali-Ngalim-Boorroo (for the women), a two-part exhibition (at The Cross Art Projects and Sydney College of Arts Gallery), and a large and ongoing project developed by senior Gija women at Warmun Art Centre in the Kimberley.