Timothy Cook has been creating paintings, prints and carvings at Jilamara since 1999. Born in 1958 on Melville Island, where he lives and works today, Timothy is a member of the Jilamara Arts & Crafts Association. Melville Island lies in the eastern Timor Sea about 60km north off the coast of Darwin in the Northern Territory, where the Indigenous people have lived for over 40,000 years. Together with Bathurst Island and nine smaller islands, it forms the Tiwi Islands.
Timothy’s art is very personal to him; he likes the ‘old designs’ which he learnt from his elders. He especially likes dots (pwanga) as elements of his designs; dots are his ‘favourite special’ due to the fact that ochre dots are applied to his face for ceremonies. The dots are applied by his bunji – a kinship relationship term which means mate, or in-law. Timothy expresses himself through his loose, gestural, spacious designs. He paints with a palette of exclusively natural ochres.
Featuring circular and cross motifs, Cook’s paintings are strongly connected to aspects of Tiwi ceremonial practice, particularly the Kulama (yam ceremony) and Pukumani (funeral ceremony), as well as stories of Purukapali, one of the great mythological Tiwi ancestral figures.
His artworks are highly sought after for major collections both nationally and internationally. In 2012, he won the Major Award at the prestigious Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, where he had been a Finalist in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. In 2018 Timothy’s work was selected for the inaugural King and Wood Mallesons Contemporary ATSI Art Prize.
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