TIWI: Art History Culture
The Miegunyah Press , Melbourne University Publishing, 2012
A new landmark publication marking a century in the lives and culture of the unique Tiwi people of Bathurst and Melville Islands.
Tiwi culture, history and traditional stories are now vividly expressed through lines, pattern and colour in many media- painting, carving their unique Pukumani burial poles, printing on fabric and paper, pottery, glass and bronze sculptures. They are traditional artists who make work for family use and ceremony and they are abstract contemporary artists too, some of the most admired in Australia. Making art is a fundamental act for Tiwi.
Hundreds of images of old and new paintings and unique carvings are interwoven with many stories - of buffalo hunting camps, Indonesian fishermen, and the story of how in 1911 a lone priest, speaking French, came ashore and changed their world. Excerpts from his diarised account, and many historic images of people and activities add to the immediacy of the encounters.
Six years in the making, with research and oral histories from numerous eye witnesses, art workers and collectors, as well as art from the Tiwi Art Centres and seminal collections, this book stands as a monument to Tiwi people and their current endeavours to "Keep Tiwi Culture Strong".
Thanakupi's Guide to Language & Culture
A Thaynakwith Dictionary
By Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher
Cape York legend, the late, Thancoupie was the primary elder of the Thaynakwith people of the Weipa region of Queensland.
This is her historic indigenous dictionary and guide to Thaynakwith language and cultural practices.
"for the children now and in the future - so people will know there is such a people as the Thaynakwith ."
Through Thancoupie's commentaries, stories, descriptions and drawings she transports us directly into the rich
culture of the Thaynakwith. Internationally renowned for her ceramics, in which she connects the stories of her
people to her art, here she makes the connection through language, recognizing the importance of this knowledge
for future generations. This culturally significant book brings together language, stories, beautiful photographs
and illustrations, describing the rich culture, the diverse sea and land creatures and the plants of Cape York -
It is also a pictorial indigenous nature guide. A CD of Thancoupie pronouncing 600 words is also available.
Thancoupie passed away at 74 years of age in 2011.
Australian Dreaming : 40000 Years of Aboriginal History
Ure Smith, Sydney 1980, reprinted by Lansdowne Press - folio format; New Holland compact format, 2005.
Compiled and edited by Jennifer Isaacs with Isaacs' linking texts.
The best selling story of the pre-European Australian continent and its indigenous people.
Supported by the Aboriginal Arts Board which encouraged contributions from indigenous story tellers and knowledgeable cultural
caretakers, it charts the Creation era, the great Ancestral Heroes and their journeys, and describes oral history, art and
ceremonial activities, and the handing on of custom and law throughout Australia.
A vast and sweeping book, this seminal work has been used in Australian and Aboriginal studies syllabuses for decades.
It is lavishly illustrated with historic colour photographs of the landscape, people, rock paintings and carvings,
paintings, and ceremonial life by some of Australia's best photographers including Reg Morrison, Penny Tweedie, Robert
Edwards, Derek Roff, Heidi Herbert.
Thancoupie the Potter
Aboriginal Artists' Agency, Sydney 1982
This is the story of Australia's first Aboriginal potter, from her childhood on the Presbyterian mission at Weipa in remote
North West Queensland to her status as the country's premier ceramic artist represented in all national collections. A "close
and subjective view", according to Isaacs, her lifetime friend who shared a house and studio with the artist in Sydney and
who mentored her career.
Australia's Living Heritage: Arts of the Dreaming
Lansdowne Publishing, Sydney 1984
Exploring the living traditions of the world's oldest continuing art in all its stunning variety. Isaacs shows how the art is a visual expression of Aboriginal religion but one which is constantly evolving through each artist: "Although the styles have altered, the symbols, themes and preoccupations of the artists have not." Covering the symbiotic relationship between culture and land, Australia's Living Heritage was one of the earliest and still the most comprehensive book on this rich and complex culture; it covers rock art, body art, fibre and weaving, the Papunya painting movement with illustrations of the ground painting techniques,as well as over 100 photographs of early and beautiful artifacts,bark paintings and sculptures in National Collections.
Bush Food: Aboriginal Food and Herbal Medicine
Lansdowne Publishing, Sydney 1987
In pre-colonial eras, Aboriginal people enjoyed a balanced, varied diet of fruits, nuts, roots, vegetables, meat and fish. Isaacs uncovers the variety and quality of their culinary experience, acquired over 50,000 years of trial and error. She explains the religious rules governing seasonal harvesting and preparation of food. The herbal medicine section includes traditional remedies for common ailments and the role of healers. Detailed charts explain the use of hundreds of plants. Best seller- never out of print.
The Gentle Arts
200 Years of Australian Women's Domestic and Decorative Arts
Lansdowne Publishing 1987 (reprinted 1997)
From jewel-like bottled fruits for country shows and agricultural displays, to quilts, tapestries, banners and the knitted socks and jumpers of the war effort, to lace and patchwork, elegant embroidery and sheer "making do", this generously illustrated book celebrates the unsung arts and crafts of Australia's women. A landmark publication for Australia's bi-centenary, this feminist re-vamp of art history exposes hundreds of hidden art pieces in homes across the country.
Australian Aboriginal Paintings
Lansdowne Publishing 1989
This book provides an overview of traditional Aboriginal religious paintings, recorded at a time when Aboriginal art exploded from its niche as "ethnographic" to become recognised as a major form of contemporary art. It explains not only the physical context for Aboriginal art, but concepts such as the Dreaming, the symbols of country, and women's designs with their own important religious status. It includes Western Desert paintings as well as Arnhem Land bark paintings.
Aboriginality: Contemporary Aboriginal Paintings and Prints
University of Queensland Press 1989
Revised with 4 additional artists 1992
Embracing the rich and diverse content and styles of contemporary Aboriginal art which, Isaacs says, expresses a "defiant continuity of their cultural traditions". Aboriginality covers the social issues and contemporary dilemmas of urban artists like Trevor Nickolls and Lin Onus, the photography, films, prints and sculpture from the urban Boomalli co-operative and the tradition-based work of Jimmy Pike and Banduk Marika. It includes 85 colour paintings and prints.
Pioneer Women of the Bush and Outback
Lansdowne Publishing 1990, New Holland 2009 ( paperback)
Ranging from the beginnings of inland settlement up to recent times, Pioneer Women offers a comprehensive and detailed account of those "ordinary" women who not only bore and reared their children and made their homes in terrible isolation but helped build houses, yards and fences and coped with natural disasters and the twin plagues of rabbits and dust. Drawn from many sources including unpublished diaries, photographs in private families, library material, oral history and interview, Isaacs paints a graphic picture of the lives of those who "knew what is was like to cope with little, to make things from scraps, bags, tins and boxes, and to cook a big dinner over an open fire".
Desert Crafts: Anangu Maruku Punu
In co-operation with the Maruku arts and crafts organization, representing the traditional communities around Uluru, Jennifer Isaacs tells the story of the Anangu people's struggle for their land and of the crafts which express their intimate connection with that land. She writes of the natural materials used in their tools, bowls and carved animals, of their seed necklaces and traditional fibre crafts, of the desert environment in which they live and the "awesomely powerful spiritual places" of Uluru and Katatjuta. A chapter on "the handback" documents the events leading to the Anangu people regaining native title to their lands.
Wandjuk Marika: Life Story
as told to Jennifer Isaacs
University of Queensland Press 1995
The paintings of Wandjuk Marika, now in major galleries across Australia, are religious documents of land ownership and cultural inheritance. Jennifer Isaacs, who has been visiting Yirrkala since 1970, was adopted into his family and here has recorded Wandjuk Marika's own words telling the Yolngu ( Aboriginal) side of Australian history as experienced by this outstanding statesman, religious leader, land rights champion, poet, singer and artist. "Sometime in the future my children will try to carry on for me, the ceremonies, the caring for the land." Finalist in Victorian Non Fiction and Adelaide Writers Week National Non fiction Awards.
University of Queensland Press 1995
Ten Speed Press Berkeley 1996
A celebration of the highly unconventional garden. Under headings such as Whirligig Wonders, Fences/Defences and Wonderful Walls, Isaacs has sought out home-made havens created from shell, porcelain, cactus, mosaic and gnomes. From a garden crafted as a salute to tea - to a severe brick house with its fantastical shell castle, Quirky Gardens photographs the world of these odd-ball Edens and interviews their makers.
Emily Kngwarreye Paintings
By Jennifer Isaacs, Terry Smith, Judith Ryan, Donald Holt, Janet Holt
Craftsman House 1998
From Alhalkere on remote Utopia Station in the Northern Territory came an Anmatyerre woman, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, heir to the world's oldest continuous culture and one of its oldest and best exponents, a senor elder, and caretaker of important religious knowledge and sacred places. From 1979 when she started painting batiks to her first solo exhibition in 1990 in Sydney, to 1997 when she featured at the Venice Biennale, this remarkable artist became a national and international treasure, represented now in galleries across Australia, the United States, Britain and Europe.
Hardie Grant Books & Fine Art Museums of San Francisco 1999, 2001, reprinted with Intrroduction by Hetti Perkins, 2011
Renowned tribal leader Galarrwuy Yunupingu tells Jennifer Isaacs, "Painting is our foundation. White man calls it art." Here, in full page illustrations, are outstanding works from the Central Desert, the Kimberley and Arnhem Land, where Aboriginal artists are at the forefront of political and social change for their communities. Spirit Country contains biographical notes on the leading artists and explains the paintings and the relationship of the people to their land. A record of the outstanding collection made in the late 1990s by art patrons Baillieu Myer, Neilma Gantner and Carrillo Gantner which toured internationally and was eventually donated to the Museum of Victoria and to the De Young Museum in San Francisco.
Saltwater (Co-editor and publisher only)
Yirrkala Bark Paintings of Sea Country
Buku-Larrngay Mulka Centre in association with Jennifer Isaacs Publishing 1999
From Yirrkala, established as a mission in the 1930s, the Yolngu people maintain their ancient links with the sea and while Australia's courts and parliament were first recognizing, and then extinguishing, Native Title, the Yolngu began this extraordinary series of 80 bark paintings telling of their inextricable ties with their sea country. The sea itself, its totemic life forms, the clouds, birds, rocks and turtles are there. "Turtle we would sing about, canoe we would sing, clouds rising we would sing about, wind we would sing about."
In the words of Djon Mundine, the book is an effort "to share a body of knowledge in the belief that when you, as a member of Australian society understand it, you will be changed."
Aranda Artists of the Central Desert
Craftsman House 2000
With 132 colour plates, this book encompasses the vividly painted, original and joyous work of 13 potters from Hermannsburg, a mission which once provided a refuge during drought and frontier violence and which continues as an Independent Aboriginal community today. As former National Gallery of Australia director Betty Churcher says in her introduction, the Aranda potters "like artists anywhere... draw on many sources: on past traditions, on present environment, and on their imaginations". Their work is "a celebration of the boundless capacity of the human mind and spirit".