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.
Ngiyaampaa girl Punta Williams poses for photographs on the dry river bed of the Darling River before performing at the Yaama Ngunna Baaka Corroboree festival in Wilcannia, New South Wales.
Aboriginal communities have recently held special festivals along the river ‘to heal the Barka’. Ochre-painted dancers performed around fires at dusk, revering the river but also seeking to draw attention to its plight.
Over 50,000 bulbs light up an expanse of Australia’s Red Centre desert near Ayers Rock in an installation about the size of four football fields.
The solar powered work, Field of Light Uluru, was produced by artist Bruce Munro who conceived the idea while visiting Uluru in 1992.
Twelve years later he created its first installation in a field behind his home, and it has since moved the work around to several different sights across the United Kingdom, United States, and Mexico.
Field of Light was a project that refused to leave the artist’s sketchbook.
“I saw in my mind a landscape of illuminated stems that, like the dormant seed in a dry desert, quietly wait until darkness falls, under a blazing blanket of southern stars, to bloom with gentle rhythms of light,” said Munro.
The British artist is best known for his light installations which often contain components numbering in the thousands.
These large works refer to his own experience as being a tiny element to life’s larger pattern, and employ light as a way to tap into a more emotional response with his viewers.
Profits for the installation will benefit the local community.
The Anangu tribe have named the piece Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku in Pitjantjatjara which translates to “looking at lots of beautiful lights.