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Tjanpi Desert Weavers Sculpture: Black and Orange by Martha Yunurupa Ward

  • Artist: Martha Yunurupa Ward
  • Location: Wanarn, WA
  • Birth Year: c.1948

Born in the bush near Warburton, Western Australia, Martha (also known by her bush name Yunurupa) spent her early years in this area, travelling around with her parents, from whom she learnt about her Ngaanyatjarra culture, heritage and language. Martha currently resides between Wanarn and Warakurna. 

Martha was at the first Tjanpi workshop in Papulankutja (Blackstone) in 1995. From this, she begun to weave tight, colourful baskets, and continues to learn new skills in making sculptural works. Since her husband died, Martha likes to surround herself with art, and also paints for Warakurna Artists and makes woodwork animals. 

Tjanpi (meaning 'dry grass') evolved from a series of basket weaving workshops help on remote communities in the Western Desert by the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunyjatjara Women's Council in 1995. Building on traditions of using fibre for medicinal, ceremonial and daily purposes, women took easily to making coiled baskets. These new-found skills were shared with relations on neighbouring communities and weaving quickly spread. Today over 400 women across 28 communities are making baskets and sculptures out of grass and working with fibre in this way is firmly embedded in Western and Central desert culture. While out collecting desert grasses for their fibre art, women visit sacred sites and traditional homelands, hunt and gather food for their families and teach their children about country. 

Tjanpi Desert Weavers is Aboriginal owned and is governed by Aboriginal directors. It is an arts business but also a social enterprise that provides numerous social and cultural benefits and services to weavers and their families. Tjanpi's philosophy is to keep culture strong, maintain links with country and provide meaningful employment to the keepers and teachers of the desert weaving business. 

Tjanpi Desert Weavers Sculpture: Black and Orange by Martha Yunurupa Ward

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