Yirrinkiripwoja II. Raelene Kerinauia.
Raelene Kerinauia

Yirrinkiripwoja II

Etching, sugarlift & aquatint

29.6 x 22.2 cm 

Numbered 27/40




Traditional Tiwi Culture placed special significance on the Pukumani (funeral) ceremony.  

Mourners are decorated  using natural  ochres to disguise themselves from the spirit of the 

deceased and  song and dance is performed to honour the dead. Yirrinkiripwoja 

(bodypaint)  is the source of  many contemporary Tiwi designs and performance of the 

pukumani as ritual helps to reinvigorate the imagery. The shortening of the word to Pwoja - 

also refers to 'best'. (Jilamara Arts and Craft, August 2006) 


Raelene was born on 1 September, 1962, on Bathurst Island and raised by her 

grandmother. Her older brother Vivian is also a painter. Raelene began designing screens 

for fabric printing in 1985 as part of the adult education program in Milikapiti, and then took 

up painting with the establishing of Jilamara Arts and Craft in 1989. Initially, Raelene used 

brushes with ochres but since 1999 she has adopted the traditional painting technique of 

using a comb (kayimwagakini). Combs were used primarily used in the past for ceremonial 

body painting applications, and are typically made from bloodwood or ironwood. 


Raelene was inspired to incorporate the traditional technique of the kayimwagakini after 

observing Pedro Wonaeamirri using it, and viewing older pole carvings in the National 

Museum by the late Tiwi carver, Sugarbag Kapiti. The making of the comb is a skill in 

itself, and Raelene's partner James Tipiloura, a carver with Jilamara Arts and Craft, carves 

the combes for Raelene's work. 


In addition to printmaking, Raelene works with ochres on paper, bark, and canvas, and her 

work has been acquired for major public and private art collections including at the 

National Gallery of Australia. Raelene has participated in group exhibitions since 1991, 

and she has held several solo shows in Darwin and Sydney since 2004. (Jilamara Arts 

and Craft, July 2006) 


Item #3140


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