Romolo Tipiloura

BORN: 4 March 1957
COUNTRY: Wururanku
DOMICILE: Nguiu, Bathurst Island
SKIN GROUP: Takaringini (Scaly Mullet)
DANCE: Pika (Horse)

Tiwi Island artists make carved and painted figurative, three-dimensional works, as well as tutini – rather than painted hollow logs. Theirs is a truly sculptural tradition in the round, one skilfully transposed in the creation of two-dimensional, limited edition intaglio prints.

Along with his wife Immaculata, Romolo Tipiloura (born 1957) worked for Jilamara Arts and Crafts on Melville Island between October 2003 and December 2005, returning to Tiwi Design on Bathurst Island in January 2006.

Since then, he has focused principally on carving as well as printmaking, participating in workshops with the Australian Print Workshop (Melbourne) in 2009.

A number of Romolo’s etchings from these workshops were acquired for the CDU Art Collection which reflect his extended repertoire as a carver/sculptor.

The subject matter and inspiration for Romolo’s art practice are traditional Tiwi Creation Stories and ceremonial objects and installations, such as Pukumani poles.

He describes his carved and painted tutini as “old style design”, and yet retains the freedom to extend their conceptual and creative possibilities: as living, meaningful and contemporary sculptural art forms.

In 2006, his rendition of Taparra (Moon Man) metamorphosed into “Footy Man”, paying homage to a quasi-sacred sport and his personal passion, as much as to Tiwi ancestral beliefs. The artist’s barrel-chested Taparra takes a mark to honour the Tiwi Island Football Grand Final, held in February each year at Nguiu, and has become the event’s double-edged totemic emblem.

Romolo Tipiloura has participated in group exhibitions in Australia and in Paris, France since 2003. His work is held in the National Gallery of Australia, as well as the Charles Darwin University Art Collection. One of his sculptures was pre-selected for the Telstra-National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2007.

In November 2009, Taparra – Moon Man/Footy Man and a large-scale, majestic tutini by the artist, also drawn from the permanent holdings of the CDU Art Collection, featured in Prelude – an inaugural exhibition in the new CDU Art Gallery held to mark the official opening of the Chancellery.

Taparra – Moon Man/Footy Man also appeared on the front cover of the exhibition’s room brochure, towering protectively above recently relocated art works from the Collection and fittingly, side by side a charcoal drawing by Tony Tuckson.