Freda Warlipini was born at Mirrikawuyanga on the Tiwi Islands. She lived a fully traditional lifestyle until she was removed from her family, according to the Australian governments assimilationist policies of that time, and sent to live at Garden Point, a mission on Melville island. After her marriage she went to live on Bathurst Island where she stayed until her husbands death. She then moved back to Melville Island to live at Milikapiti where she has became one of the important women participants and dancers of the Tiwi Pukumani and Kulama ceremonies.
Freda is adept at making Tunga (Tiwi bags), Parmajini (armbands) and other ceremonial regalia. Before becoming a contemporary painter on canvas and paper in the mid 1990’s, she employed her typical abstract Tiwi geometric patterns as body and facial ornamentation, as well as decorating small barks and tunga for sale. Her work reflects the traditional body designs used for ceremony with the emphasis on the bold, black, red and yellow ochres. Her characteristically free brushwork is created with drastically modified brushes.
Freda rocketed to prominence with two solo shows in 1999 and her work has since been widely exhibited in Australia and overseas. The National Gallery of Victoria, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and the John McBride collection hold her work. Apart from her interest in painting Freda is also deeply involved in traditional bush activities.
Subject & Themes
Ceremonial body designs of Pukamani and Kulama.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, MAGNT, Darwin.
The John McBride Collection, Melbourne and Tokyo.
Myer Gatner Collection, USA.
1996 Tiwi People from Melville Island, Anima Gallery Adelaide.
1996 Masterpieces from Milikapiti, Savode Gallery Brisbane.
1997 ‘Old Patterns’ Framed Gallery Darwin NT.
1997 First Person Plural Betty Rymer Gallery, The School of Art Institute of Chicago.
1997 Old Tiwi Alcaston House, Melbourne.
1997 Keeper of the Mimi Spirit, The October Gallery, London.
1997 Dreamings Spazio Pitti Arte Florence Italy.
1997 Kartukuni Amintiya Jurra (Irinwood & Paper) Hogarth Galleries,Sydney.
1998 Gli Aborigeni Australiani Una Storia Forty Thousand Ani.Castello Sforenco, Milandeao Sale Viscontee,Italy.
1998 The Old and the New,Gallery Gondawana Alice Springs till 2000 One Thousand Journeys touring exhibition.
Isaacs J.Spirit Country Hardie Grant Books Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco 1999.