Tiwi Designs Aboriginal Corporation, one of the oldest and most artistically diverse art centres in Australia, is located at Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island. The art complex is near the Apsley Strait beach and includes a carver’s shelter, pottery studio, screen printing studio, painting studio as well as an administrative centre and retail gallery. Tiwi Designs started in a small room underneath the Catholic Presbytery in 1968. Two young Tiwi men, Bede Tungatalum and Giovanni Tipungwuti, worked with the school art teacher, Madeline Clear, to produce wood block prints. This art form was introduced because of the natural link with traditional wood carving techniques. By 1969, the artists started transferring their designs onto silk screens and printing textiles quickly became a major activity.
In 1970, a set of six linen place mats won the Industrial Design Council of Australia’s Good Design Award, Bede Tungatalum and Giovanni Tipungwuti formed a partnership, and Madeline Clear became Tiwi Designs’ Art Adviser. By 1976, Tiwi Designs moved into larger premises and in 1980 the partnership changed to an association, aiming to promote, preserve and enrich Tiwi culture. More than 50 artists work with Tiwi Designs to create paintings, wood sculptures, textiles, ceramics, baskets and mats from pandanus weaving, and printmaking. Tiwi Designs has become an intrinsic part of the Aboriginal art and craft industry in Australia, and continues to support highly skilled artists to express their culture.