The Tiwi Islands (Bathurst Island and Melville Island) are located about 100 km (60 mi) north of Darwin at the junction of the Timor and Arafura seas. The dangerous waters separating the islands from mainland Australia have allowed the art and culture of the Tiwi people to develop in relative isolation. Their work is significantly different from the work created by most mainland artists, as it is often geometric and abstract.

These beautiful tropical islands are home to nearly 2500 Tiwi-speaking people. There are three major art centers located on the Tiwi Islands: both Munupi and Jilamara are located on Melville Island, and Tiwi Design at Nguiu is located on Bathurst. 

The land on both islands is heavily forested, mainly with eucalyptus, stringy bark ironwood, woolly-butt, and paperbark. Beaches on the islands are known for their clay cliffs and expanses of white sand. These cliffs provide the varieties of ocher used by the Tiwi for painting.