Kaye Brown1954 - Tutuni and Tunga 2022
- natural ochres on carved Ironwood and folded and stitched Stirngybark
Using only materials from Country, Kaye is telling the story of these ceremonial and practical objects and how they relate to her lived experience.
She uses the Kayimwagakimi (carved ironwood comb) and natural ochres of Melville Island to paint. Her jilamara (body paint design) and pwoja (body) styles are very layered and reminiscent of some of the old Tiwi artists and the body painting styles hey used to prepare for ceremony and yoi (dance).
The Pukumani ceremony is the culmination of ritual mourning for a deceased person. Several months after the burial, family commission in-laws of the deceased to carve and decorate elaborate tutini. These are then placed at the gravesite during a showy performance of song and dance, and tunga (bark bags) are placed upside down on top of the poles to signify the end of life.
These sculpturally beautiful 'artworks' are left to the elements, returning to the bush from which they are made. Traditionally Tiwi use bloodwood for tutini, but cured ironwood is the prefered timber for commercial carvings thanks to its durability. Current practice of carving pukumani poles is an expression of the artist's cultural heritage through contemporary art. They are created as an artistic form of expression to be viewed and appreciated by a broader public with the intention to maintain and share Tiwi cultural knowledge.
Tutini carved with a pronged or forked apex represents the fight between Purukuparli and his brother Taparra the moon man. Diamond and curved shapes are a female embodiment, but each pole represents all and everything that is Tiwi culture.
Source: Jilamara Arts and Crafts, Melville Island, NT