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Kitty Kantilla and Freda Warlapinni at Milikapiti (Snake Bay)
, 2003

by Jo Bertini

oil on canvas (support: 152.0 cm x 135.0 cm)

Kitty Kantilla (Kutuwulumi Purawarrumpatu) (c. 1928-2003) was the most acclaimed Tiwi artist of her generation. Kantilla was from Yimpinari country on Melville Island, off the west coast of the top of the Northern Territory. For a time she lived on nearby Bathurst Island, but in the 1970s she moved to Paru on Melville Island where she joined a group of women who sold their art at Nguiu. During this period she produced mainly carvings, but around 1985 she moved to Milikapiti, a nearby settlement, where she began to produce paintings at Jilamara Arts and Crafts. She is now best known for her ochre paintings on paper, canvas, bark and ironwood, incorporating traditional geometric designs. Her work is represented in most major Australian galleries, and the National Gallery of Victoria mounted a major touring retrospective of her art in 2007-2008. Freda Warlapinni (c. 1928-2004), also an artist, started painting in ochre on paper, bark and canvas in 1996. She lived with Kantilla in the 'widow's camp' on the coast of Melville Island for some years, and the two remained close, needling each other unrelentingly, for the rest of their lives.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased with funds from the Basil Bressler Bequest 2004
Accession number: 2004.17