Freda Warlipini was born at Mirrikawuyanga on the Tiwi Islands on the coast north of Darwin. She lived a fully traditional lifestyle until she was removed from her family, according to the Australian governments assimilationist policies of that time, and sent to live at Garden Point, a mission on Melville Island. After her marriage she went to live on Bathurst Island where she stayed until her husbands death. She then moved back to Melville Island to live at Milikapiti where she has become one of the important women participants and dancers of the Tiwi Pukumani and Kulama ceremonies; these ceremonies are from the cornerstone of the Tiwi people’s traditional and spiritual beliefs.
Freda is adept at making Tunga (Tiwi bags), Parmajini (armbands) and other ceremonial regalia. Before becoming a contemporary painter on canvas and paper in the mid 1990’s, she employed her typical abstract Tiwi geometric patterns as body and facial ornamentation, as well as decorating small barks and tunga for sale. Her work reflects the traditional body designs used for ceremony with the emphasis on the bold, black, red and yellow ochres. Her characteristically free bushwalk is created with drastically modified brushes.
Freda rocketed to prominence with two solo shows in 1999, and her work has since been widely exhibited in Australia and overseas. The National Gallery of Victoria, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and the John McBride collection hold her work.
Subject & Themes
Ceremonial body designs of Pukamani and Kulama.