• Artist: Pedro Wonaeamirri
  • Art Centre: Jilamara Arts and Crafts
  • Region: Tiwi Islands

Artwork Story

Pedro Wonaeamirri grew up at Pularumpi (Garden Point) on Mellville Island. As a teenager he moved with his family to Milikapiti (SnakeBay.) He was educated at a boarding school in Darwin, and fortuitously in 1989, on his return to Milikapiti, the fledgling arts centre Jilamara Arts and Craft had commenced. Pedro’s country is on the eastern side of Melville Island “the land or country where I come from is from my father’s father, my grandfather”. Pedro Wonaeamirri


Pedro’s art is steeped in Tiwi tradition yet is timeless. Tiwi art is derived from ceremonial body painting and the ornate decoration applied to Pukumani funerary poles, Tunga bark baskets, and associated ritual objects made for the Pukumani ceremony. Traditionally the deceased Tiwi people are buried on the day they pass away, but the Pukumani ceremonies are performed six months to several years after the death. “The Pukumani ceremony is very important to us” Pedro Wonaeamirri states. “It’s a time when we get together and the old people sing and dance. I learnt to carve Pukumani Poles by watching my elders, who are no longer with me today. The designs are already in my head and I use our traditional wooden comb and ochre to paint.  The first mob that dance are of one totem. If the deceased person for example is Magpie Goose, all Magpie Goose totem people dance. Pedro has been exhibiting since 1989 and his artworks are in many national, state and collections.

© Jilamara Arts and Crafts



2001     Pedro Wonaeamirri, Alcaston Gallery Melbourne

2003     Pwoja – Body Paintings, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne

2004     Nginingilawa Yirrajirrima Solo Exhibition (My third solo exhibition), Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne

2005     Nginingilawa Jilamara,, Alcaston Gallery at The Depot, Sydney

2006     Pedro Wonaeamirri, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne

2008     Kartukuni amintiya Jilamara – Ironwood and Painting, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne

2009     Pwoja my jilamara Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne

2011     Ninganuwanga Jilamara – Forever Painting, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne



1994     NATSIAA, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

1995     NATSIAA, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

1996     Australia Council Fellowship, International Year of Tolerance.

2000     Young Australian of the Year, Arts Category

2004      NATSIAA, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

2004     29th Annual Shell Fremantle Print Award, Fremantle Arts Centre, WA

2005     NATSIAA, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

2007    Togart Contemporary Art Award, Darwin

2007    NATSIAA, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

2009     NATSIAA, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

2012     NATSIAA, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin



National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Museum of Victoria, Melbourne.

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth

Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane

National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour, Sydney.

Commonwealth Institute, London

Artbank, Sydney

Gantner Myer Collection

Gordon & Marilyn Darling Collection, Melbourne

Levi-Kaplan Collection, Seattle, USA

The British Museum England

Murdoch University Collection, Perth

Edith Cowan University Art Collection, Perth

Wesfarmers Collection, Perth



  1. Ngingingawula Jilamara kapi purunguparri (Our Paintings on Bark) J. Bennett Gallery Monthly Magazine of the National Gallery Society of Victoria, September. 1992
  2. The Body Tiwi Aboriginal Art from Melville and Bathurst Islands catalogue. The University Gallery, University of Tasmania at Launceston 1993
  3. Art of the Tiwi from the Collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, catalogue. NGV, Melbourne 1994
  4. Australian Perspecta Living Here Now: Art & Politics Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney 1999
  5. Isaacs, J. Spirit Country Hardie Grant Books, San Francisco 1999
  6. Beyond the Pale catalogue, Art Gallery of SA, Adelaide 2000
  7. James, B. Festival’s King Hit, Sydney Morning Herald, 11th March 2000
  8. Kean, J.The Diversity of Practice- Political Theatre in Beyond the Pale, Artlink issue 20 #1 2000
  9. People in  a Landscape catalogue. Australian Print Workshop Melbourne
  10. Islands in the Sun- Prints by Indigenous Artists of Australia and the Australasian Region Roger Butler & Brian Robinson  (Eds) ANG/Thames and Hudson 2001
  11. Print Projects: Research, Record, Reclaim Indigenous Cultural Material’, Imprint, Anne Virgo, Vol. 35, Number 2, Winter 2000.
  12. Kiripuranji: Contemporary Art from the Tiwi Islands, Jacki Dunn, exhibition catalogue, Artbank Sydney, 2002.
  13. Global Village – Tiwi Pukumani Poles, Broadcast 15th November 2002, SBS TV.
  14. Sunday Circle Magazine, Artist Interview, Malta, March 2004.
  15. Watson, K. Pumpuni Jilamara (Good Design), Look, Art Gallery Society of New South Wales, April, 2002.
  16. Accessing Yiribana “We have a readymade product – Just add water”, Look, Art Gallery Society of New South Wales, July, 2002
  17. Place Made: Australian Print Workshop, Roger Butler and Anne Virgo (eds), National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2004.
  18. Message Stick – ABC Website( http://www.abc.net.au/message/blackarts/visual/s1138434.htm) ‘Tiwi island artist, Pedro Wonaeamirri, a profile’, Nancia Guivarra, 23rd June 2004.
  19. ‘Colour out of the islands’, Felicity Allen, The Herald Sun, July 23, 2004
  20. ‘Pedro Wonaeamirri: Celebrating Australian Tiwi culture through art’, The Circle Magazine, Malta, 2004.
  21. ‘Kiripuranji: Contemporary Art from the Tiwi Islands’, Tune In Magazine, Malta, 2004.
  22. Living Tiwi: Tiwi Awuta Yimpanguwi, Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association, 2004.
  23. Tradition Today:  Indigenous Art in Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2004.
  24. Schwerin, M. Kayimwagakimi: The painting of Raelene Kerinauia and Pedro Wonaeamirri, Art Monthly Australia, March 2005 #177
  25. Primavera 2005:  exhibition by young Australian artists, Museum of Contemporary Art Limited, Sydney 2005.
  26. Art & Soul: ABC broadcast-Documentary by Hetti Perkins and Hibiscus Films, Sydney 2010
  27. Healing Art, Nicholas Rothwell, The Australian, 2013