Timothy Cook

BORN: 1958

REGION: MELVILLE ISLAND

COUNTRY: GOOSE CREEK

LANGUAGE: TIWI

SKIN GROUP: MARNTUPUNI (HOUSE FLY)

DANCE: TARTUWALI (SHARK)

Timothy Cook expresses himself through a loose, gestural and spacious painting style. He paints exclusively with natural ochres, diligently composing his commanding paintings with outstanding commitment to his daily studio-practice. His artworks are highly sort after by major collections both nationally and internationally. His acclaimed career includes many highlights, such as being the recipient of The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Art Award in 2012.

Timothy has been creating paintings, prints and carvings at Jilamara Arts and Craft since 1999. His art is very personal to him as it is inspired by the ‘old designs’ which he learnt from his elders. Pwanga (dots) are central to his compositions as they are drawn from designs that are painted directly onto his body for ceremonies. The dots are applied by his bunji — a kinship relationship term for mate, or in-law.

In the last few years Timothy has focused on the Kulama design. The Kulama ceremony is a traditional initiation for young men which coincides with the harvest of wild yam. The ceremony is performed in the late wet season (March-April) when a ring appears around Japarra (the moon). Elders of both sexes sing and dance for three days, welcoming the boys into adulthood — bestowing them an adult name. The circles in his work symbolize the moon, yam and ritual circles of the Kulama ceremony, the “cross” reflects his spiritual life and the pwanga (dots) reflect the japalinga (stars).

In his most recent paintings, Timothy combines natural red, white and yellow ochres that are sourced on country around Milikapiti and Melville Island. Along with the black from crushed charcoal these pigments were traditionally used for many years by his ancestors to paint. These traditional materials are the basis of Timothy’s palette.

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