Press Releases - Artitja Fine Art

Media Release: 5TH October 2011
Artitja Fine Art

330 SouthTerrace
South Fremantle WA
October 21st-November 6th

Media Contact: Anna Kanaris 0418 900 954

MUNUPI ARTISTS OF MELVILLE ISLAND Exhibition: Opening 21st October 2011

It is so remote that the only means of transport to Melville Island is by barge, small aeroplane or cruise boat – and when you arrive you are still in Australia.

One of two islands that make up the Tiwi Islands - Bathurst Island being the other – Melville Island is situated approximately 100km north of Darwin, and is home to some of Australia’s most prestigious Indigenous artists, including Jean Baptiste Apuatimi, Susan Wanji Wanji and Justin Puruntatameri, who was born circa 1930 before European settlement of the island.

All three artists work will feature in Artitja Fine Art’s third major exhibition this year opening on Friday 21st October, a group show entitled MUNUPI ARTISTS OF MELVILLE ISLAND.

“Flying into Pirlangimpi on a bumpy little plane made me realise how remote this densely rainforest populated island is” says Anna Kanaris, Artitja Fine Art Director “Meeting Justin Puruntatameri was special. He remembers the day the Japanese bombed Darwin during World War 2, and in his own words ‘you could not see the sky, only aeroplane’, Justin is the most respected ‘culture man’ on both of the Tiwi Islands and is one of the few who can still speak the very old Tiwi dialect.”.

Justin’s importance to the history of his culture and people is such that a documentary film is currently being made about him, and he is very active in the local school teaching the younger children their language, so it does not get lost or forgotten.

In 2010 Justin painted for the first time and has since been exhibited to high acclaim. “For Justin to get such good reviews so early in his career signifies a great artistic skill for this octogenarian, whose only prior experience in mark making was in design through body painting for Tiwi ceremony”, explains Kanaris.

Since the 1980’s this internationally exhibited and diverse group of artists have drawn inspiration from their natural lush environment and Tiwi creation stories. Working in a variety of media including wood, ceramics, textiles and canvas the artists have more recently shifted from using acrylic paint to ochre in a move that has been met enthusiastically by both the artists and the art market.

Two award winning artists, Nina (Ludwina) Puruntatameri whose major large work Kulama will be on display and Art Centre President Francesca Puruntatameri will be flying in from the community to attend the South Fremantle opening at which they will present Yoi a Tiwi welcome ceremony.

The exhibition will be opened by prominent Australian writer Jennifer Isaacs AM. The artists will be in the Gallery on Saturday 22nd October for a ‘Walk and Talk” at 2pm.

MUNUPI ARTISTS OF MELVILLE ISLAND exhibition is free to the public opening 6.30pm on the 21st October and will run until the 6th November daily from 11am to 5pm, exhibiting at Earlywork, 330 South Terrace, South Fremantle. Artists will be present at the opening and in the gallery for the floor talk on Sat 22nd October.

For further information, please contact Anna Kanaris on 9336 7787 or 0418 900 954 or visit

Artists will be present and available for Media opportunities prior to the opening
Jennifer Isaacs is also available for interview
More Images of the artworks and interviews with Anna Kanaris are available
All media enquiries to Anna 9336 7787 (m) 0418 900 954

Back to dealer/gallery profile