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Thursday, 22 August 2019

Meet The Illustrator: Debbie Coombes

Name: Debbie Coombes

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Modern and contemporary colours with Tiwi designs.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
The main space for me before I became employed on a full time basis was at the art centre,in the open space and sitting with fellow
artists while telling,listening to each other stories and listening to music playing in the background. You have a big, long table with plenty of room for other artists. All I need is my paints, canvas and paint brush.


Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
Painting has always been my favourite artistic medium. I use various sized paint brushes to paint on canvas.


Name three artists whose work inspires you.
My grandfather Justin Puruntatameri
My mum Florence Coombes
My sister Jennifer Coombes

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
I wish I could visit the past when the old traditional styles of designs were being used by my elders before me. I see pictures in books and online from a very long time ago and it amazes me every time.


Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?I had dreamed about being a children’s book illustrator for a long time, but I never thought it would actually happen! Munupi Arts manager, Michael Stitfold, approached me and informed me that Magabala Books were interested in working with me. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this experience, but it turned out to be a very exciting one which I am delighted and excited to share with my family and friends.


What is your favourite part of the illustration process?I’m not sure as this is all new to me. I believe the whole process with Magabala Books was great

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?The advice I would give is, don’t be scared of doing something you are passionate about, don’t be afraid of doing something new. Give yourself the opportunity to do something awesome for yourself. Only you can make it happen.


Debbie is the daughter of Florence Puruntatameri-Coombes, and Graeme Coombes. Her mother is a Tiwi woman from Pirlangimpi Community on Melville Island. Her father originated from Queenstown, New Zealand but married Florence as a young man and called Pirlangimpi home for over 30 years. He raised Debbie and her siblings (including sister and fellow artist Karina Coombes) on the islands, visiting New Zealand only a handful of times with his wife and children. Graeme passed away in 2010.Debbie lived and worked in Darwin for over 4 years, returning to live back home in the Tiwi Islands in 2011. From this point Debbie painted under the direction of her grandfather, Justin Puruntatameri and Florence (Justin’s eldest daughter). Justin in particualr was able to give Debbie invaluable advice on what she could correctly portray as defined by her Tiwi family ties. Debbie is now well known in artistic circles for her joyful depictions of Tiwi Life in figurative forms. People travelling by cars and canoes of all shapes and sizes to the football. A huge part of contemporary Tiwi Lifestyle.

Please find more of  Debbie's art on this website.

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