“I will take a painting to heaven so my mother will recognise me.” – Timothy Cook
Timothy Cook expresses himself through his loose and gestural designs. Timothy paints exclusively with natural ochre and his artworks are highly sort after by major collections both nationally and internationally. Timothy won the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Art Award in 2012 and has been shortlisted for many others including the Hadley Art Award in 2019.
Timothy has been creating paintings, prints and carvings at Jilamara Arts and Craft since 1999 and has represented the art centre in numerous high-profile solo and group exhibitions. His art is very personal to him; he likes the ‘old designs’ which he learnt from his elders. He paints dots (pwanga) as elements of his designs; dots are his ‘favourite’ due to the fact that ochre dots are applied to his face for ceremonies. The dots are applied by his bunji – a kinship relationship term which means mate, or in-law.
In the last few years Timothy has focused on the Kulama design. The Kulama ceremony is a traditional initiation for young men which coincides with the harvest of wild yam. The ceremony is performed in the late wet season (March-April) when a ring appears around Japarra (the moon). Elders of both sexes sing and dance for three days, welcoming the boys into adulthood. The boy is then renamed with his true man’s name. The circles in his work symbolize the moon, yam and ritual circles of the Kulama ceremony, the “cross” reflects his spiritual life, the pwanga (dots) reflect the japalinga (stars).
Some of Timothy’s paintings also represent Japarra the moon man, a significant figure in the Tiwi creation story.