Featured Tapestries

Pwoja Pukumani body paint design

This tapestry is the second to be funded through an initiative of the Tapestry Foundation of Australia to place Australian-designed and made tapestries in selected overseas embassies. Under this program, tapestries are loaned from the Tapestry Foundation of Australia's permanent collection to an embassy.

The Artist

Pedro Wonaeamirri was born in 1974 on Melville Island, the larger of the Tiwi Islands off the coast of Darwin in the Northern Territory. His home is the remote community of Milikapiti (Snake Bay), a picturesque place on Melville Island.

Pedro Wonaeamirri's paintings are based on pwoja body painting and his carved Pukumani poles are his link to the tradition and to the future of the Tiwi people. Tiwi art is derived from ceremonial body painting and the ornate decoration applied to Pukumani funerary poles, Yimawilini bark baskets, and associated ritual objects made from the Pukumani ceremony. Traditionally, deceased Tiwi people are buried on the day they pass away, but the Pukumani ceremonies are performed six months to several years after death.

Pedro's talents were recognised and nurtured from the beginning of the Jilamara Arts and Craft centre in the Tiwi Islands and at age seventeen, Pedro's work was included in a group exhibition in 1991 at Alcaston Gallery. Now his art has been exhibited and acquired throughout Australia and internationally.

Over the years, Pedro has developed his own style. Unusually, he has chosen to use a traditional wooden comb, giving his paintings a stylized look, whilst continually experimenting with combinations of blocks of ochre background and intricate pattern. Pedro is also well known for his Pukumani pole carvings. He says much of his inspiration comes from childhood memories of watching the elders paint and carve the designs.

Pedro’s work is represented in many major collections.