Tjanpi Desert Weavers

Sally Scales from Tjanpi. As well as artworks, Tjanpi sells a range of merchandise.

Tjanpi Desert Weavers is an ‘art centre without walls or borders’ spanning the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara (NPY) tri-state region of Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

It’s a leading social enterprise that helps to improve the lives of NPY women and their families by supporting cultural activity and employment through the creation of fibre art. Tjanpi (pronounced ‘jumpy’ and meaning ‘grass’) has expanded significantly from its humble beginnings as a series of basket-weaving workshops held by the NPY Women’s Council in 1995.

Building on a long history of working with fibre to make objects for ceremonial and daily use, the women took quickly to coiled basketry and were soon sharing their new skills with neighbouring communities. Today women across 18 Central Desert communities make a spectacular array of quirky and animated sculptural forms as well as magnificent baskets from locally collected grasses. Working with fibre in this way is a fundamental and vital part of contemporary desert culture.

‘We make our baskets from our hearts and our country.’ — Jennifer Mitchell, Tjanpi Desert Weaver

Tjanpi Desert Weavers has a retail outlet at the NPYWC premises on Wilkinson Street, Alice Springs, and members’ works are also sold and shown in art galleries, design houses and retail outlets around Australia. ‘It’s rewarding to see how popular Tjanpi artworks have become, especially in the context of providing income, emotional support and a voice to the women of the Central Desert,’ says Michelle Young, Manager of Tjanpi Desert Weavers. ‘It’s wonderful to see the enterprise continue to grow.’

Artist Maureen Douglas with ORIC’s Sayuri Piper holding one of the artist’s baskets.

Visit the Tjanpi website at www.tjanpi.com.au for more information.

Photo one: Sally Scales from Tjanpi. As well as artworks, Tjanpi sells a range of merchandise.

Photo two: Artist Maureen Douglas with ORIC’s Sayuri Piper holding one of the artist’s baskets.