Tjanpi Desert Weavers wins a Deadly Award

Tjanpi Desert Weavers, NPY Women’s Council social enterprise supporting more than 400 women of the Central and Western Desert region, was awarded a Deadly for Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Advancement.

The award was presented on Tuesday 25th September 2012 at the Sydney Opera House before a welcoming crowd. Andrea Mason, the Coordinator of Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council accepted the award on behalf of all Tjanpi artists.

Tjanpi (meaning ‘grass’) began as a series of basket-weaving workshops NPY Women’s Council held on the Ngaanyatjarra Lands in 1995. Women spoke up strongly for meaningful employment opportunities in their homelands, to be able to provide for their families. New-found weaving skills were quickly shared with relations on neighbouring communities, and weaving spread. Today, more than 400 women are making baskets and sculptures out of grass and other materials, and working with fibre in this way is now firmly embedded in Western and Central Desert culture.

At its core, Tjanpi is about family and community — walytja. Tjanpi Desert Weavers has met with such phenomenal success because creating Tjanpi work fits so happily alongside the demands, obligations and joys of family. Not confined by place or purse, Tjanpi work allows the Tjanpi weavers and sculptors to be out bush, at home, or on the road, and it can be accomplished with few resources. It is work that encourages social and cultural obligations; families combine trips out bush to collect grass with gathering bush tucker, hunting, maintaining custodial responsibilities, performing inma (song and dance) and collecting bush medicines.

The Tjanpi walytja is a wide-reaching network of mothers, daughters, aunties, sisters and grandmothers whose shared stories, skills and experiences are the bloodline of the weaving phenomenon that has swept the Western and Central Deserts over the past sixteen years. The Tjanpi family extends across 350,000 sq km and takes in 26 NPY member communities, and is growing all the time.

Michelle Young, Manager of Tjanpi Desert Weavers, said, ‘The Deadly Award provides a wonderful recognition of the many economic, cultural, social, artistic and health benefits that Tjanpi brings to the women of this region and demonstrates how much Tjanpi is valued across the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara Lands.’

Tjanpi Desert Weavers is supported by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet – Office for the Arts, Westpac Foundation, Caritas Australia, Rio Tinto and Australia Council for the Arts.

For further information please contact:

Michelle Young


Tjanpi Desert Weavers

08 8958 2377