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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. Debbie lived and worked in Darwin for over four years, returning home to live in the Tiwi Islands in 2011. From this point Debbie painted under the direction of her grandfather, Justin Puruntatameri and her mother, Florence (Justin’s eldest daughter). Justin in particular 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.