Kitty  Kantilla

Print this page

View biography by artist

» Back to previous page

Kitty Kantilla

Artist Story

Aboriginal artist Kitty Kantilla is from Yimpinari country on Melville Island. During the 1970's she moved to Bathurst Island, the smaller of the two Tiwi Islands to live in her mother's country. It was here that she began working as an artist, initially as a carver.

Around 1985 Kitty Kantilla moved back to live in Milikapiti, a settlement on Melville Island, where she began to produce her more contemporary work. She is acknowledged as one of the leading Tiwi artists in Australia.

She is best known for her distinctive use of ochres on paper, canvas, bark and ironwood. Drawing on her Dreaming stories for inspiration, Kantilla produces both paintings and sculpture. Her Paintings and limited edition prints are based on traditional designs, including those used during the Pukamani ceremony, the traditional Tiwi burial ceremony which is one of the cornerstones of the Tiwi's traditional and spiritual beliefs. A wide variety of geometric designs are painted on the burial poles and body of participants during the ceremony and this is what Kitty draws upon in her work. Every line, dot or marking has an important meaning. She translates traditional into new and abstract designs. Her work is both subtle and strong, with intricate lines of dots, bold areas of solid ochre and sections of delicate line work. In her printmaking her works are a true representation of the marks of an artist.

She has shown in many group exhibitions throughout Australia since 1989 and in several individual shows in Sydney since 1993.

Subject & Themes

Yinkiti, Yoyi, Jilamara (Rain-skin group, Fire-dance group)

Collections

Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.
Museum of Victoria, Melbourne.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour, Sydney.
Wollongong City Art Gallery, Wollongong.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney,
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide.
Thomas Vroom Collection, Amsterdam.
Wollongong City Art Gallery, Wollongong NSW.
Australian National Gallery, Canberra.
Musee des Arts, Afrique d'Oceanie, Paris.
The Laverty Collection.
Edith Cowan University Collection, WA.
Qld. University Collection.
Millenium Portfolio of Aboriginal artists.
Gatner Myer Collection.

Individual Exhibitions

1993 Aboriginal and South Pacific Gallery, Surry Hills, Sydney.

1995 Aboriginal & South Pacific Gallery, Surry Hills, Sydney.

Group Exhibitions

1989 Tiwi Aboriginal Woodcarvings, Meat Market Craft Centre, North Melbourne, Victoria.

1992 Ngingingawula Jilamara Kapi Purunguparri (Our Designs on Bark), National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

1993 Nginingawula Tiwi Jilamara, All our Tiwi designs, Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin, NT.

1993 The Body Tiwi Aboriginal Art from Melville and Bathurst Islands, The University Gallery, University of Tasmania at Launceston.

1993 The Tenth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.

1994, Power of the Land, Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria.

1994 Creators and Inventors, Australian Women's Art in the National Gallery of Victoria, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

1994/5 Art of the Tiwi from the Collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, a National Gallery of Victoria Travelling Exhibition, touring Shepparton Art Gallery, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Tandanya, Adelaide.

1995 The Best Face Value for Autumn, Wollongong City Art Gallery, Wollongong, New South Wales.

1995 The Twelfth National Aboriginal Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.

1994 Power of the Land: Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

1995 Jilamara api Yurruka Manipurrua (Designs on Long canvas and Pukamani poles) Alcaston Gallery Melbourne.

1995 12th NATSI Art Award Museum & Art Gallery of NT, Darwin.

1996 Dots: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

1996 Abstraction: Signs, Marks ,Symbols, National Gallery of Vic.

1996 Touring exhibition of work From NATSI Art Award 1995.

1996 National Aboriginal Heritage award, Parliament House Canberra.

1996 Etchings and lino blocks from Melville Island, Australian Art Print Workshop Victoria.

1996 Masterpieces from Milikapiti Savode Gallery, Brisbane.

1996 Tiwi People from Melville Island, Anima Gallery Adelaide.

1997 Keeper of the Mimi Spirit, The October Gallery, London.

1997 Small Designs -Jewellery and Paintings, Savode Gallery Brisbane.

1997 'Old Patterns' Framed Gallery Darwin NT.

1997 14th NATSI Art Award Museum & Art Gallery of NT, Darwin.

1997 Dreamings Spazio Pitti Arte Florence Italy.

1997 Kartukuni Amintiya Jurra (Ironwood & paper) Hogarth Galleries Sydney.

1997 Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art, Songlines Aboriginal Art Gallery Amsterdam, San Francisco.

1998 15th NATSI Art Award Museum & Art gallery of NT, Darwin.

1998 Proof Positive A selection of prints from the Archive of Australian Art Paint Workshop, Carnegie Gallery, Hobart City Council.

1998 Kitty Kantilla solo, Aboriginal & Pacific Arts, Sydney.

1998/1999 International Art fair Exhibition Buildings, Melbourne.

1998 Group Exhibition, Alcaston Gallery, Canberra.

1998 'Parlini Jilamara Kapi Urruka Tarpurrlini Amintiya' (Old Designs on Long Canvas and Paper) Mossenson Gallery Subiaco.

1998 The Old and the New, Gallery Gondawana Alice Springs.

1998 Gli Aborigeni Australiani Una Storia Forty Thousand Ani. Castello Sforenco, Milandeao Sale Viscontee, Italy.

1999 The Work of the Tiwi, Framed Gallery Darwin.

1999 About Art All, Alcaston Gallery Melbourne.

1999 Group Exhibition, Chapman Gallery, Canberra.

1999 Tiwi on wood, Alcaston gallery Melbourne.

1999 Kitty Kantilla solo, Aboriginal & Pacific Arts, Sydney.

1999 New Paintings from Milikapiti, Redback Gallery, Brisbane.

1999 Love Magic, SH Erwin Gallery Sydney.

1999 Arukulunga Wunitak thelma -Cyclone Thelma Australia Print Workshop.

1999 Great Icons of Aboriginal Art National Gallery of Victoria.

2000 Beyond the Pale Adelaide Biennale of Australian Art. Art Gallery of SA, Adelaide.

2000 The National Gallery of Victoria Collection, Venice.

2000 Kitty Kandtilla: New Works on Paper and Canvas, Aboriginal and Pacific Arts, Sydney.

Bibliography

Bennett, J., 1992, 'Ngingingawala Jilamara kapi purunguparri (Our Bark Paintings),' Gallery Monthly Magazine of the National Gallery Society of Victoria, September.

Bennett, J., 1993, 'Narrative and decoration in Tiwi painting: Tiwi representations of the Purukuparli Story,' Art Bulletin of Victoria 33, 39-47. (C)

1993, The Body Tiwi Aboriginal Art from Melville and Bathurst Islands, exhib. cat., The University Gallery, University of Tasmania at Launceston. (C)

1994, Art of the Tiwi from the Collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, exhib. cat., National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. (C)

Womens' Work: Aboriginal Women's Artefacts in the Museum of Victoria exhibition catalogue, Melbourne Museum of Victoria 1995.

Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Paintings. Songlines Aboriginal Art Gallery Amsterdam - San Francisco exhibition catalogue 1997.

Beyond the Pale: Contemporary Indigenous Art. Art Gallery of SA Catalogue 2000 Australian Art Collector.

McCulloch, S: Contemporary Aboriginal Art: A Guide to the Rebirth of An Ancient Culture. Allen & Unwin 1999

Book Mentions

Kitty Kantilla is mentioned in the following publications:

Artist Links...

Kitty  Kantilla
  • Region: Tiwi Islands
  • State: Northern Territory
  • Locality: Milikapiti
  • Born: 1928c
  • Died: 2003
  • Medium: Ochre on bark, ochre on paper, canvas, iron wood and limited edition prints
  • Art Centre: Jilamara Arts & Crafts
  • Outstation: Yimpanari
  • Language: Tiwi