Tinka (Goanna) by Chriselda Farmer

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Tinka (Goanna) by Chriselda Farmer


Chriselda Farmer

Warakurna Community

L80cm x W28cm x H20cm

Tjanpi (Dry grass), wool, raffia

©Chriselda Farmer, Tjanpi Desert Weavers, NPY Women’s Council

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Chriselda Farmer grew up on the Ngaanyatjarra Lands in Western Australia. She now lives in the remote community of Warakurna with her husband and young family. Warakurna is located in Western Australia, approximately 800 km south west of Alice Springs, and 1700 km north east of Perth and has a population of approximately 200 Ngaanyatjarra people. As such, Chriselda is fluent in both Ngaanyatjarra and English.

Chriselda was taught to make baskets by her mother-in-law and prominent Tjanpi artists Nancy Jackson. She has adopted the minarri-rich (grass used in Tjanpi weaving) coil-style characteristic of basket-makers in the Ngaanyatjarra communities, which creates baskets with the minarri visible between stitches. Chriselda has refined this into her own unique style by neatly laying the minarri strands in narrow coils and sewing them in with brightly coloured raffia. Since attending a Tjanpi Weaving Masterclass in 2016, Chriselda has also been sculpting with the minarri, focusing on animals such as papa(dog) and tinka (goannas).

Tjanpi (meaning ‘dry grass’) evolved from a series of basket weaving workshops held in 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 directed by an Aboriginal executive. 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.

Text © Tjanpi Desert Weavers, NPY Women's Council