Articles, Blog

Tiwi culture and the female crocodile

My name is Jedda Puruntatameri,
I work at the Art Centre. I do a lot of translations, uh, working with the artists. Do a lot of painting on canvas. We haven’t got a museum or a Keeping Place, so my work is basically heading towards that. Having materials prepared
and finished, documented for a Keeping Place or a museum, for Tiwi children to embrace and to respect Tiwi culture. I have a lot of patience for painting. There’s a lot of stories that have connections with paintings on canvas. The painting that I’m doing
is about the female crocodile, building her nest. And she leaves the saltwater,
she comes into the freshwater. She builds her nest and lays her eggs. Sometimes she’ll have 120, but sometimes when
she’s not there looking after the nest, Tiwi people come and steal her eggs because it’s a… It’s a delicacy. And with the education system today, our children go to school. There may be twelve in a classroom, then that’s the start. At the end of the year there may be… Maybe eight children will graduate because the four had, uh, problems, maybe. So, there’s a story towards
the female crocodile and the nest that she built. There’s the story with our children in the education system today. There’s been a lot of school dropouts. That’s because the
education system has failed us. There’s another… Another thing that I need to work on
is when a painting gets sold, it’s sold. Then you don’t get
to understand where it’s gone. Whether it’s gone to a good home
or whether it’s been sold to another person and another person. But then, whether or not
you still have, um, copyright… (STUTTERS) That’s another issue. Whether your painting is sold and maybe you don’t have copyright. So, we’re trying to understand,
within the arts today, selling a lot of artefacts,
whether it was… Whether they belong to us or… But I’d rather see our
artefacts come back to us. You know, when we can say,
“Yes, this is Tiwi.” We can put it in our museum
or our Keeping Place. Or we can store it digitally in our libraries, in the museum. And this is for our future generation,
our children. To have an understanding, you know. This is what Tiwi culture is about. Keeping our culture alive, our history alive, our language. This is who we are as Tiwi people.

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