On the Couch with Michelle Woody Minnapinni

Michelle-Woody-Minnapinni-courtesy-of-Jilamara-ArtsWho is Michelle Woody Minnapinni?
I am a Tiwi woman who works at Jilamara Arts. I am an arts worker, artist and culture woman. I have three girls and two grandchildren. Art and culture is important because we pass it on from our ancestors to the future generations.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I look forward to spending more time with my grandchildren and my youngest daughter Sophia. Because my grandchildren don’t live on Tiwi it’s been hard to see them during the virus lock down. When they come here I teach them about art and culture as they grow older.

Who inspires you and why?
The people that inspire me are the old people. They are more experienced about art and culture. I have learnt from them by watching them and can pass it on to the next generations.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Teaching the younger generations to take over from us when we step down will keep culture strong and alive. As they go on this journey they will pass the knowledge on too because they have a long long way to go, passing the culture and knowledge on for the next generations. Because it’s going to continue.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
When I want time to myself I go to the beach for hunting, fishing and spending time with family. I like to go out on country for the fresh air and to listen to the waves and sea breeze.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I take them to the art centre to show them about art and culture. To show them the Tiwi artists and Jilamara art centre. I show them through the Mulluwurri museum that has special adornments, painting, prints, pukumani poles and other importantl artefacts from our ancestors and current artists. Also I am a cultural conservator and look after the museum here at Jilamara.

What are you currently reading?
I am always looking at and reading the books here about parlingari (old time) Tiwi stories and our ancestors. A lot of the books have photos of Tiwi people and our ceremonies.

What are you currently listening to?
I love listening to and learning the old Tiwi songlines. I am hoping to spend more time with the collections of Tiwi songlines that are held by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torre Straight Islander Studies in Canberra. I went there last year as part of the Westfarmers leadership program.

Happiness is?
I felt happy when I first saw the artefacts from the ancestors, hearing the songlines and how the old people were. I feel good that the songlines and artefacts are being seen and heard by people all around the world. So that they will know about Tiwi people. It’s important to share art and culture so people around the world know where we are coming from. I feel happy sharing culture with family and friends here on the Tiwi Islands.

What does the future hold for you?
The future is strong and positive. Art and culture will stay strong and alive for the future generations.

Michelle will be featured in the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF), Australia’s largest Indigenous art event, which takes place online in a digital format from 6 – 14 August 2020. For more information, visit: www.daaf.com.au for details.

Image: Michelle Woody Minnapinni – courtesy of Jilamara Arts