Born in 1958 on Melville Island off the coast of Darwin, Timothy Cook has been creating paintings, prints and carvings at Jilamara Arts and Craft in Milikapiti since the late 1990s.
From an immediately apparent, highly individual style of expressing Tiwi thought, Timothy has now come into his own as the most celebrated and awarded artist of the Tiwi Islands.
Timothy’s art is very personal to him as it is inspired by the ‘old designs’ which he learnt from his elders. Much of his recent work has focused on the Kulama design. The Kulama ceremony is a traditional initiation for young men which coincides with the harvest of wild yam. The ceremony is performed in the late wet season when a ring appears around Japarra (the moon). Elders of both sexes sing and dance for three days, welcoming the boys into adulthood — bestowing them an adult name. The circles in his work symbolize the moon, yam and ritual circles of the Kulama ceremony, the “cross” reflects his spiritual life and the pwanga (dots) reflect the japalinga (stars).
Timothy Cook has held numerous solo exhibitions since 2002. He has regularly been selected as a finalist in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, winning the award in 2012. Most recently, Timothy Cook was celebrated in TIWI, the most comprehensive exhibition of Tiwi art at the National Gallery of Victoria (2021), and his paintings are included in the currently touring exhibition One foot on the Ground, One foot in the Water. His paintings are held in the National and state gallery collections within Australia, as well as important national and international collections.