Chris Black

Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association

Skin: Miyartuwi (Pandanus)
Country: Jurrupi (Jessie River)
Dance: Narringari (Magpie goose)
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Chris Black was born at Milikapiti Community, where he has spent the majority of his life. He is part of a large clan, consisting of three main families – the Bush, Black and Brown family names make up the majority of the Miartuwee Clan.

Chris attended high school at Kormilda College in Darwin. On return to Milikapiti, Chris was nurtured by his Aminayi (Grandfather) Black Joe who was a renowned Tiwi artist. Chris remembers this wise old man very well. Black Joe was a great carver, artist, spear-maker and culture man who created Tiwi songs for Chris when he was young. When Chris attends ceremony with family he sings these songs that were given to him by Black Joe. The memory of his aminayi is the main influence on his arts practice today. Looking at old designs painted in his grandfather’s era inspires Chris greatly and gradually over time he has become one of the exciting emerging artists currently working at Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association.

Also known as ‘Kojak’, he creates colourful compositions of jilamara (Tiwi body paint designs), various types of fish found around Melville Island and the Jarrangini (Buffalo). He paints his unique contemporary styles with natural earth pigments collected from around Milikapiti and processed by hand at the art centre. White and yellow ochre are collected and ground into a fine powder, the yellow is then cooked on an open fire into the red that make up the three main colours of the Tiwi palette. Chris’ unique style has caught the attention of many people in recent times and one of his limited-edition prints was recently licensed as a tattoo through the Copyright Agency ­– a poetic creative development that speaks to the body art (jilamara) foundations of Tiwi art making styles.