The Kulama Ceremony is performed in the late wet season (March-April) when a ring appears around the moon. Kulama is a traditional initiation for young men which coincides with the harvest of a certain wild yam species. Elders of both sexes sing and dance for three days welcoming the boys into adulthood. The boy is then renamed with his true man’s name.
This etching by celebrated artist Pedro Wonaeamirri was produced in collaboration with printmaker Martin King from the Australian Print Workshop in Melbourne. The Australian Print Workshop (APW) has an ongoing relationship with Jilamara Arts & Crafts, which began in 1995. Since then APW has undertaken several return trips to the Island. These visits have been complemented by visits to the Melbourne workshop by several of the Tiwi artists.
The Tiwi word Jilamara, which roughly translates to the English word ‘design’ refers to the intricate ochre patterning traditionally applied to the bodies of dancers and the surface of carved poles during the Pukumani (funeral) and Kulama (initiation/yam) ceremonies.
An individual design and aesthetic is highly valued by Tiwi artists and is representative of their personal interpretation of the traditional Tiwi design or jilamara. Artists draw continual inspiration from body paint (yirrinkiripwoja) and scarification designs (minga) as well as clan totems, ceremony and the Tiwi creation story. Designs passed on by family are also an inspiration to Tiwi artists developing their own particular style or jilamara.
Jilamara Arts & Crafts was originally established in 1989 as an adult education centre focusing on fabric printing. Today artists work from a palette of natural ochres to produce paintings on linen, canvas, paper and bark. Also renowned for sculptural works the tradition of carving has continued through the art centre.
Prints produced by Jilamara artists have been acquired for major public collections including: the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Victoria.
© Jilamara Arts and Crafts