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Tiwi Art - Unique Art and Jewellery from Australia's Top End

by Carolyn Hopping (follow)
Online (80)      Jewellery (16)      Australia (148)      Art (2)      Tiwi Islands (1)      Tiwi Art (1)      Indigenous Australian Art (1)      Paintings (1)      Sculpture (1)      Fabric (1)     
Approximately eighty kilometres to the north of Darwin, where the Timor Sea meets the Arafura Sea, lies a small group of islands that most Australians have never heard of. Comprising of Bathurst Island, Melville Island and a few other uninhabited isles, the Tiwi Islands are the ancestral home the Tiwi people, who have resided there for tens of thousands of years.

Image courtesy of the Tiwi Art website

The Tiwi Islanders are the custodians of a rich and ancient cultural tradition and Tiwi Art Network is an alliance of the island's three arts centres, representing over a hundred artists working in a variety of creative media, both traditional and contemporary. As well as sharing information about the islands and local culture, the Tiwi Art website also includes a well-stocked online shop which purveys a dazzling array of exquisite products including traditional artworks, clothing, jewellery, wood carvings, prints, pottery, books and much, much more.

Image courtesy of the Tiwi Art website

The most iconic of all traditional Tiwi artforms would have to be the dramatic wooden tutini poles which are created for the Pukumani or burial ceremony of the deceased. Carved from ironwood, they're adorned with carvings and decorations portraying the life and spiritual journey of the person. Inspired by the island's rich tradition of carving, the shop sells beautiful wooden sculptures, often depicting native birds endemic to the area.

Sculpture by Greg Orsto: image courtesy of the Tiwi Art website

Even today, Tiwi paintings generally utilise the earthy ochre colours which occur naturally throughout their homeland. The Tiwi Art online store has a wonderful range of beautiful paintings created by local artists, some on canvas and others on the more traditional bark surface. While the majority primarily use traditional symbolism and abstract design, a few also portray contemporary activities on the islands, such as Debbie Coomb's Off to the Footy paintings.

Image courtesy of the Tiwi Art website

Also popular are the gorgeous range of printed fabrics, with designs inspired by the traditional patterns used in ceremonial rituals. If you're a designer, or simply enjoy sewing your own clothing and soft furnishings, be sure to take a look at the unique designs that are available via the online shop.

Image courtesy of the Tiwi Art website

If you're a dedicated individualist who steers clear of major department and chain stores, Tiwi Art is also a top spot to purchase truly unique fashion items, especially jewellery. Although the Tiwi Islanders have traditionally adorned their bodies with ochre designs and other decorations for special ceremonies, jewellery made of precious metals was not part of their culture. However, as with many art-forms practiced today, elements of other creative traditions have been amalgamated with traditional practices to create vibrant contemporary pieces.

Brooch by Maria Josette Orsto; image courtesy of the Tiwi Art website

In 2012 Melbourne jeweller Alison Limb visited the Tiwi Islands and held a jewellery workshop with artists from the Islands' three art centres, demonstrating various techniques of jewellery-making such as wax carving, modelling, filing and design. Drawing on traditional Tiwi motifs and based on their skill in other techniques, the local artists created a selection of unique designs which form the basis of the jewellery range available on the website. Cast in silver and finished off by a professional jeweller to create their high quality finish, this exquisite range is bold and modern while preserving the artists' style and integrity. Stamped with the Tiwi Art logo, the artists receive direct royalties from the sale of this range which includes pendants, rings, brooches, earrings and cuff-links.

Earrings by Jocelyn Black: image courtesy of the Tiwi Art website

In conclusion, if you're desiring a truly unique shopping experience, then the Tiwi Art website is a great spot to check out. Whether you're looking for beautiful works of art to adorn your home, one-of-a-kind jewellery items or a gift for someone special, purchasing from this online store helps the Tiwi Island artisans to keep their cultural traditions alive, and helps them to support their families in their beautiful island home. Better still, if you're visiting the Top End, take one of Tiwi Art's art tours, see the country that inspired their work and purchase from the artists directly.

tiwi art
Image courtesy of the Tiwi Art website

Address: Online

Website: http://shop.tiwiart.com.au/

#Tiwi Islands
#Tiwi Art
#Indigenous Australian Art
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