• 14. Tiwi Totems
  • 14. Tiwi Totems

Chris Black

14. Tiwi Totems

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    • Locally sourced ochre on linen
    • Dimensions: 120 x 90 cm
    • Cat No. 437-23

Chris Black was born at Milikapiti Community, where he has spent the majority of his life. He is part of a large clan, consisting of three main families – the Bush, Black and Brown family names make up the majority of the Miartuwee Clan.

Chris attended high school at Kormilda College in Darwin. On return to Milikapiti, Chris was nurtured by his Aminayi (Grandfather) Black Joe who was a renowned Tiwi artist. Chris remembers this wise old man very well. Black Joe was a great carver, artist, spear-maker and culture man who created Tiwi songs for Chris when he was young. When Chris attends ceremony with family he sings these songs that were given to him by Black Joe. The memory of his aminayi is the main influence on his arts practice today. Looking at old designs painted in his grandfather’s era inspires Chris greatly and gradually over time he has become one of the exciting emerging artists currently working at Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association.

Also known as ‘Kojak’, Chris creates colourful compositions of jilamara (Tiwi body paint designs), various types of fish found around Melville Island and the Jarrangini (Buffalo). He paints his unique contemporary styles with natural earth pigments collected from around Milikapiti and processed by hand at the art centre. White and yellow ochre are collected and ground into a fine powder, the yellow is then cooked on an open fire into the red that make up the three main colours of the Tiwi palette.

Chris’ unique style has caught the attention of many people in recent times and one of his limited-edition prints was recently licensed as a tattoo through the Copyright Agency ­– a poetic creative development that speaks to the body art (jilamara) foundations of Tiwi art making styles.

- Jilamara Arts & Crafts

In Tiwi language, the term Jilamara refers to body paint design.

Established in 1989, Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association is owned and governed by Tiwi artists from Milikapiti community on Melville Island. The Tiwi Islands, Bathurst Island & Melville Island, are north of Darwin and have been home to Tiwi people since parlingarri (a long time ago). Milikapiti community is on the coast over overlooking the Arafura Sea. It’s a happy place, with strong families and strong culture.

Through workshops, training, support and representation, Jilamara artists are supported to build careers as internationally renowned artists. In the community, the art centre is an important place for children to learn culture through culture classes and for young people to learn from their elders to build bright futures.

The Muluwurri Museum is an important keeping place for Tiwi culture and stories, important for remembering old ways and the old people who started Jilamara. For artists and community members, the art centre is a supportive workplace to learn new skills and earn money to support family.

Jilamara Arts is a place for everybody.

Best efforts are made to get your purchase on its way within 2 business days. Postage from Darwin can be slow so please bear with us! 

All works are packed securely to protect during shipping. All items valued over $100 are insured for damage during transit. 

If you are purchasing multiple works, please email us for custom shipping rates. 

Items purchased online that are part of an exhibition will be shipped at the end of the exhibition period.