Building on the traditions of using natural fibres to create objects for medicinal, ceremonial and daily use, the Tjanpi – or ‘dry grass’ – Weavers are women who come together to visit sacred sites and traditional homelands, hunt and gather food for their families and teach their children about country while collecting grasses to sculpt and weave.
Students will work directly with the accomplished artists to learn new techniques and expand upon their own diverse disciplines in painting, drawing, music, sculpture and spatial practice as well as film and television.
Tiriki Onus, Lecturer in Indigenous Knowledge and Cultural Practices at the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development, says the masterclasses are a precious experience for budding artists.
“Too often there is a false distinction drawn between craft and fine art. The women from the Tjanpi Desert Weavers are contemporary fine artists, as well as seasoned teachers, performers and cultural ambassadors who not only maintain traditions within their own art form but also innovate upon them. We are incredibly lucky to be facilitating their presentation of masterclasses at the Wilin Centre.”
Today there are over 400 women across 28 communities making baskets and sculptures out of grass. Working with fibre in this way is firmly embedded in Western and Central Desert Indigenous culture.