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
FELLOWSHIPS & AWARDS
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
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