Staff profile: Cynthia Burke

My name is Cynthia Burke and I am the remote Arts and Culture Field Assistant for Tjanpi Desert Weavers in Warakurna, Western Australia.

Annieka, the remote Arts and Culture Field Officer, and I work together to go out and visit Ngaanyatjarra ladies in communities in Western Australia. When we turn up in a community we go and visit the store, clinic, and art centre, and find which artists are there, who’s got Tjanpi, and then sometimes go out to get more grass.

We also sometimes run big workshops, like we just did in Warakurna, where we made big Seven Sisters sculptures for the National Museum of Australia.

The best thing about Tjanpi is that the ladies and girls enjoy making sculptures. The young girls enjoy learning how to weave from their mothers and grandmothers. They like being able to sell their baskets and sculptures to Tjanpi for food or petrol so they can go out bush for Tinka (goanna).

Another favourite part of my job is travelling to cities for exhibitions and art fairs with artists, like when we go to Revealed Emerging Artists Exhibition in Perth. The ladies get really happy when a basket or sculpture goes for an exhibition. They tell lots of people their works have been sent off. Then sometimes they go visit the exhibitions and then they wait for the extra money that an exhibition brings.

I hope in the future Tjanpi can do even more bush trips, and take heaps of ladies to get Minarri (Tjanpi grass), Mirrka (food), and make baskets and sculptures.