Kenny Brown was involved in the early stages of Jilamara’s development in about 1989 when he produced carvings and bark paintings at the art centre. He stopped painting to work at the Milikapiti farm for several years and also worked at the Community Social Club before coming back in to the art centre in December 2001 to continue with his artwork.
As a teenager Kenny lived at Paru on Melville Island “with the old people”. Paru was well known for senior women carvers, and older Tiwi people who were well respected for their traditional language and cultural knowledge. “Marjory Wonaeamirri grew me up” (the artist’s grandmother). At approximately 17 years of age Kenny left Paru but the influence of the elders on his life continues to this day. He acknowledges their influence in his art, and states that he “learnt designs from the old people”. From one generation to the next generation the senior Tiwi people were giving designs to Kenny relating to identity, skin (or tribe), strong imagery which holds powerful connections to past generations and provides a symbolic continuous link throughout Tiwi history. “The old people never talked about design, they showed me design”.
He is recognised as being an artist with great skill, and has attracted the attention of institutions, commercial galleries and private collectors in Australia.