Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Putting Art at the Heart of a Remote Community; Clarence Valley Potter Geoff Crispin Is Back Home after Spending Two Years in the Tiwi Islands, a Place He Has Frequented on and off over the Passage of 40 Years. There He Shares His Artistic Skills with an Ancient Culture Which in Turn Inspires Him. This Trip Was to Jilamara, Which Was a New Experience for Seasoned Visitor

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Putting Art at the Heart of a Remote Community; Clarence Valley Potter Geoff Crispin Is Back Home after Spending Two Years in the Tiwi Islands, a Place He Has Frequented on and off over the Passage of 40 Years. There He Shares His Artistic Skills with an Ancient Culture Which in Turn Inspires Him. This Trip Was to Jilamara, Which Was a New Experience for Seasoned Visitor

Article excerpt

Byline: GEOFF CRISPIN

In 2013 I found my way back to the Tiwi Islands north of Darwin. Daily Examiner readers may be familiar with my previous visits over the past 40 years. This time it was to work at the Jilamara Art centre at Milikapiti on Melville Island.

I was accompanied by Terry Wright and we would share manager and art co-ordinators duties. We followed on the great work of fellow Clarence Valley residents Cher Breeze (curator at the Grafton Regional Gallery) and her partner and artist Barry Hayes.

Art centres in remote communities serve many roles. Their activities help to keep culture strong, provide income outside of government subsidies and contribute to community identity and pride.

Jilamara has a formidable reputation for the quality of its artists and their culturally inspired artworks. This reputation extends into governing their business, keeping their culture strong and passing on these values to the next generation. This is assisted by the Muluwurri Museum attached to the art centre where culturally relevant items are housed and displayed for all to interact with.

Many Tiwi cultural items are held in major collections elsewhere and are rarely seen by the people who created them, generating a cultural disconnect affecting present and future generations' vision of their cultural heritage. Recent additions to the collection are paintings by Kitty Kantilla and Freda Warlapinni the two women who founded Jilamara and set in place its guiding principles of quality and cultural relevance.

Many of the artists at Jilamara have both national and international reputations for their work. Timothy Cook, who won the National Indigenous Art Award in 2012, Pedro Wonaeamirri, Raelene Kerinauia, Janice Murray, Patrick Puruntatameri, Conrad Tipunwuti all have high standing reputations. There are a number of other artists who are also well known and some newer rising stars, Jimmy Mungatopi and Nicholas Mario. In support of their artworks the artists have a busy travel program attending exhibition openings both throughout Australia and overseas. …

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