Staff profile: Annieka Skinner

My name is Annieka Skinner and I’m privileged to be Tjanpi Desert Weavers Remote Arts and Culture Field Officer. This role is based in remote Warakurna, Western Australia – a beautiful community located 800 km from Alice Springs and 1700 km from Perth.

Tjanpi is the dynamic social enterprise of NPY Women’s Council, providing Yarnangu and Anangu women with culturally appropriate employment and income opportunities through fibre art.

My role in Tjanpi’s tight-knit team is to visit over 200 artists in nine different Ngaanyatjarra communities to collect baskets and sculptures, distribute materials, and to facilitate bush trips, skills development and creative projects. I’m also lucky enough to travel with Tjanpi artists to exhibitions and events around Australia.

It is a pleasure to be part of this awesomely positive, holistic movement, that Ngaanyatjarra women can engage with on their own terms and in a way that’s suitable for their lifestyles.

This is Tjanpi’s, and more largely NPY Women’s Council’s, real point of difference to many other remote services that perpetuate the paternalistic colonial processes of the last 200 years. Tjanpi and NPY Women’s Council are challenging and breaking this unhealthy mould, working with Yarnangu and Anangu to create a healthy, empowered, and sustainable future they see for themselves.

The most rewarding part of my role is to work collaboratively with Tjanpi’s Yarnangu field assistants Cynthia Burke and Loretta Carroll to run a field program in a way that works best for Ngaanyatjarra women.

This in turn is empowering Tjanpi artists to increase their incomes by up to 45% a year which contributes to them and their families having food security, ability to travel to important family and cultural events, and their general emotional and physical well-being.

Moving to Warakurna with my partner and working for Tjanpi for the last four years has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Not only has it been a wonderful experience but the workplace allowances and benefits have enabled us to set-up a financially secure future for ourselves.

I would full-heartedly encourage any young professional to come out here and develop amazing skills, self-reliance, and resilience.