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Tjanpi Desert Weavers
22 August 2013
From left to right: Larke
Riemer, Westpac Women’s Markets, welcomes Tjanpi Desert Weavers: Nyurpaya
Kaika-Burton, Mary Katakjuku Pan, Niningka Lewis. The ladies were in Sydney for
the launch of String Theory at the
MCA, Circular Quay, where a piece of the group’s work, an enormous woven
sculpture named Minyma Punu
Kungkarangkalpa, 2013 (based on the Seven Sisters story), forms part of the
MCA exhibition on until October 27, 2013.
In 2010 the Westpac Foundation provided Tjanpi Desert
Weavers, which is part of the NPY Women’s Council, with a major grant delivered
over three years to develop Tjanpi Desert Weavers as a community based social
The enterprise provides culturally appropriate work for
indigenous women in remote and isolated areas where the prospects for
employment, the ability to earn money to feed and foster strong families, as
well as gain skills, are as remote as the places they live in might seem to
those of us based in the city.
Using grasses and other fibres, including feathers, raffia
and human hair, Tjanpi Desert Weavers produce baskets and sculptural objects which
are sold through national retail outlets and galleries, increasingly to
collectors and lovers of art.
“I can imagine being inside a corporate office block in
bustling Sydney far away from their own country must feel as remote to these
ladies as we would on country, and yet we all share in common our stories of
community and how we want our young people to thrive,” said Larke, speaking
with the ladies at the lunch in Sydney to celebrate the growing fame and
success of their work and their skills and the outcomes these have for their
families and communities.
Larke also acknowledged the wonderful work of the NPY
Women’s Council and the ladies who run and direct it.
Behind the Tjanpi Desert Weavers initiative stands the NPY
Aboriginal Women’s Council. Many of the ladies have or hold directorships on
this larger autonomously governed body, which has been responsible for instigating
major community changes, including the introduction of Opel fuel, odourless
petrol, to curb the devastatingly harmful practice of petrol sniffing among
“Getting to meet the artists and hear their stories was
inspirational. These are amazing women of influence doing great things in their
communities,” notes Larke.
Below: Left to right Yaritji Young, Mary Pan, Nyurpaya Kaika-Burton, Carlene
Thompson, Niningka Lewis, Tjunkaya Tapaya, Ilawanti Ken. Minyma Punu
Kungkarangkalpa, 2013. Photo by Jo Foster. Copyright Tjanpi Desert
Weavers, NPY Women’s Council.