Dallas Smythe was born at Wiluna, grew up in Warburton and now lives in Warakurna. All of these are remote communities in the central desert region of Western Australia. Dallas is married with one son.
Although Dallas has only been making Tjanpi baskets and sculptures for a short time , she is rapidly gaining a strong reputation as an exciting and innovative Tjanpi artist. Dallas’s grandmother Nora Holland is a well known painter and Tjanpi weaver, and has been a strong teacher and support for her.
Dallas likes to experiment with new materials and styles and she gets her inspiration from family and community life.
Tjanpi (meaning ‘dry grass’) evolved from a series of basket weaving workshops held on remote communities in the Western Desert by the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunyjatjara Womens’ 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 there are over 400 women across 28 communities 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.