Skin: Milipurrula (White Cockatoo)
Country: Andranangoo (Goose Greek)
Dance: Jilarti (Brolga)
Pedro grew up in Pirlangimpi (Pularumpi) on Mellville Island. As a teenager he moved with his family to Milikapiti.
He was educated in Darwin, and fortuitously in 1989, on his return to Milikapiti, the fledgling arts centre Jilamara Arts and Crafts was incorporated.
Pedro’s country Andranganoo is on the eastern side of Melville Island “the land or country where I come from is from my father’s father, my grandfather”.
Pedro’s art is steeped in Tiwi tradition yet is timeless.
Tiwi art is derived from ceremonial body painting and the ornate decoration applied to Pukumani funerary poles, Tunga bark baskets, and associated ritual objects made for the Pukumani ceremony. Traditionally the deceased Tiwi people are buried on the day they pass away, but the Pukumani ceremonies are performed six months to several years after the death.
“The Pukumani ceremony is very important to us” Pedro Wonaeamirri states. “It’s a time when we get together and the old people sing and dance. I learnt to carve Pukumani Poles by watching my elders, who are no longer with me today.
The designs are already in my head and I use the Kayimwagakimi our traditional wooden comb made from ironwood and natural ochres from the Island to paint.
The first mob that dance are of one totem. If the deceased person for example is Magpie Goose, all Magpie Goose totem people dance.
Pedro has been exhibiting since 1989 and his artworks are in many national, state and private collections Australia wide and overseas.
He is a senior Culture man of the Tiwi Islands with a significant and strong knowledge of the ‘hard’ Tiwi language and all of the songs and dancing important in Tiwi Culture.
He is a board member on several organisations including the Tiwi Land Council, Tiwi Education Board and ANKA (the peak body for Top End Art Centres based in Darwin).