Journal

Delores Tipuamantumirri 

Renowned artist from Melville Island Delores and her grand daughter Dakota
 

Tell us a bit about your paintings, what techniques and colors do you tend to use and what are their significance to you and the Tiwi Islands?

Dolla - The painting I’m doing now is about a net, a fish net. Banapa they call it. I use red, yellow and white. I use the red and yellow first and the white over it. I use a big wooden comb.

- These colours come from ochre. The ochre is the yellow and white. The yellow and white orche gets collected from the beach and when the yellow ochre is cooked on a fire it turns to red.The wooden comb, called a powja is used to apply paint and create the aesthetic of the fishnets used for hunting in Tiwi. -

Your mother Cornelia is a respected elder and artist in Tiwi and also a featured artist of North’s - how has she influenced you and your work?

Dolla - She’s an elder from Tiwi, she has influenced me just recently. My mother and my grandfather would paint together, so I joined them. I started painting after her (Cornelia), maybe in 2012 or 2013 I’d say. 

Do you think this artistic skill and knowledge will continue to be passed on in your family and to the younger generations? 

Dolla - My grand-daughter’s Shanon and that do painting too, she’ll be 12 and she’ll be going to a MITS a in Richmond.

Dakota -That’s the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School. A group of kids come down with one of the house keepers.. They go to Richmond High and after one year when they graduate from MITS they go to a private school after

Only Des and Shannon are the artistic children in the whole family. Me and Des did this painting competition thing, where there were like heaps and heaps of kids that did this painting for a postcard and Des was the one who won. He did this turtle design with red, black and yellow with dots and lines and a turtle. Somewhere in Australia they sell those postcards with the painting on it.

- Dakota is fantastic at sports including athletics and football! -

We know that your artwork is about to be exhibited in Singapore – How exciting! Can you tell us a bit about the exhibition and the artwork that will be shown?

Dolla - There’s about 3 paintings going to Singapore. But I don’t know about Mum, I don’t know how much painting she got. Mines a pretty big one, and two middle size.

What are you going to do if you sell a big piece?

Dolla - Ill give half to my family. To the kids.

What do you love most about life on the Tiwi Islands?

Dolla - Going out in the bush. Camping. Hunting. Fishing. Hunting for mud mussel, the longbum – it’s like a snail, you find them on the mud, on the beach but the other one you got to look inside the log, see half of their shell in there in the mud.

Do you like longbum Dakota?

Dakota – Yeh, but its hard to crack. Only mud mussels. Once it cooks inside you just put it on something hard and get a rock and you just crack it open and take it out. Its green and black. Yeh, it’s really nice. OH! But have you guys ever ate a snake before? Carpet snake?!..

What do you love about the Tiwi Islands Dakota?

Dakota – But the best thing about going to Tiwi Islands is you get away from all the city and everything, you get away from the city and like heaps of technology and trams and everything, all there is just bush and cars, just a tiny bit of cars, and just heaps of sea and you go hunting and camping, you cant really go hunting here in Melbourne. You can only go hunting for like shoes and clothes.

This one time in the afternoon when we were at Tiwi Islands, this dog started barking at a tree so we all went there and we saw that it wasn’t a snake or anything, it was a baby, sugar glider, so I picked it up and took care of it for the whole time we were there, and then so when we went back to Darwin, I gave it to my cousin Duan and he’s still got her now. He’s still got her and he named her Roxy. They’re so cute, their eyes are so adorable. 

What has been a highlight since you’ve started painting?

Dolla - Last year my painting went to Paris, someone bought it and put it on Facebook, they showed me.

- One of Delores's paintings was purchased last year by a resident of Paris and hung in their home. Photos of the work hanging were posted on Facebook and shared with her and the community. This was a very proud moment for Dolla -

Interview By: Monica Segovic