Denise lives in Warakurna community, Western Australia with her young family. Warakurna is located 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, Denise is fluent in both Ngaanyatjarra and English.
Denise begun basket weaving in 2006 and has continued over the years to create tightly woven coiled baskets. In 2014 she started making Tjanpi sculptures, focusing on animal themes. Denise also paints with Warakurna Artists art centre.
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.