"This painting I did for the mipurra (bark), my jilamara (designs) and pwoja (dot work) lines – red, yellow and black, I paint my designs. Also, the white background I've been doing for a long time now because it's special to me, the white background. It is part of me, when I'm dancing, when I'm singing, I wear white ochre for ceremony. With my white ornaments and painted white body I am ready to dance."
About the Artist
Pedro Wonaeamirri is a senior cultural leader in the Tiwi Islands, with significant knowledge of the 'hard' Tiwi language and all the songs and dances important in Tiwi culture.
Pedro's art is steeped in Tiwi tradition, yet is timeless. He has been exhibiting for more than 30 years and his work is held in many national, state and private collections in Australia and overseas. His contemporary art practice has its foundations in ceremonial body painting and the ornate decoration applied to tutini poles, tunga baskets and associated ritual objects made for ceremony and Tiwi yoi (dance). Pedro exclusively uses ochres sourced from around Milikapiti on Melville Island and applies fine detail with tools such as the kayimwagakimi, the carved ironwood comb traditionally used to apply decoration to the skin.
Pedro is the current vice president of Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association and a director for Arnhem, Northern and Kimberley Artists (ANKA). Alongside his esteemed visual art career, he has also published many essays on Tiwi art, culture and ceremony. Pedro won the Telstra Multimedia Award in the 2021 Telstra NATSIAA.