Jean Baptiste Apuatimi

Jean Baptiste Apuatimi (1940-2013) was internationally acclaimed as a carver, painter and printmaker. She was born in Pirlingimpi (Garden Point), on Melville Island into the Tapatapunga (March Fly) skin group. When she was young her family moved to Wurrumiyanga, where she lived in a dormitory at the convent and was educated and cared for by the nuns from the Catholic mission. She was married to her husband Declan Apuatimi at age 14, and they had 11 children – many of her children and nieces and nephews continue to work at Tiwi Design.

Jean recreated and interpreted body-painting designs used in Tiwi Ceremony through her art. Painting was a way for her to remember her late husband and mentor, who taught her to carve and paint, and passed on his personal jilamara (design): “I love my painting, I love doing it. My husband, Declan Apuatimi taught me to paint. The designs are ones he taught me. He said ‘One day you will be an artist, you will take my place.’”

Bio and photo provided by Tiwi Design. Read more at: