Imuna Kenta was born in 1948 at Pipalyatjara. As a child she moved east to Ernabella, where she attended the mission school and then worked in the craftroom. She travelled with the Ernabella Choir several times in the 1960s and 1970s to Adelaide and Alice Springs, and again in 2004. Imuna has spent much of her adult life caring for a large family and a disabled daughter, living at the homelands Turkey Bore and Balfours Well.
Imuna has been weaving since 2005, and quickly moved from making small baskets to quirky sculptural pieces. Usually depicting animals which surround her home community of Pukatja, such as kangaroos, goannas, camels and dogs, her work is always strong, proud and full of character. Imuna is a lead artist in her home community and a key weaver, giving guidance and inspiration to others with her courage to experiment in her arts practise.
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.