Molly Miller


2093-18 Basket

Tjanpi (wild harvested grass) with natural, green, and yellow raffia.

Diam 27cm x H10cm

Out of stock

Artist Biography

Molly is a Pitjantjatjara speaker who currently lives in the remote Indigenous bush community of Kalka in South Australia. She was born in the creek bed at Pilkili near Mt Sonder and grew up in the Warburton Mission in Western Australia. When she was quite young, Molly lost her mother, so her father got a new wife, and her elder sister, Elaine Lane, helped raise her up. During her school holidays she would travel all around the region living off the country and learning traditional practices and skills. She is mostly linked to the country around Blackstone Ranges in Western Australia. After school Molly went to Amata in South Australia, where she stayed for a long time, marrying and having seven children. Molly is credited with having started the big move at Tjanpi which led to women using raffia as the common material in baskets rather than the jute string and wool they had initially used. This happened in 1997/98 when Molly accompanied a school trip to Canberra and saw raffia being used in a basket down there. She brought it back to Kalka, where the woman became ‘greedy’ for that raffia. Later staff at both Kalka and Women’s Council started ordering this new material. Molly’s work demonstrates a high level of skill and expertise. Molly is also a strong leader in her small community and is active on many councils. Her two sisters are the famous painter Pantjiti Maclean and the grass sculptor and painter Elaine Lane. Molly experiments with many different grasses, which are used for the inside coils; the grasses most usually used are the commonly found flexible desert grasses wangurnu or minarri. The wool Molly uses on her baskets is handspun on a traditional spindle; she often decorates her baskets with red ininti bean seeds from the bat winged coral tree, obtaining these through trade with the communities north of Kalka. Occasionally Molly will attach carved animals decorated with hot wire poker designs. Many Aboriginal women are now weaving all across the Central and Western Deserts in a craze that has slowly spread over the years. This phenomenon is unique in that these skills are spreading from mother to daughter to aunty and then to the in-laws. The way in which this art has spread highlights how much Aboriginal people travel and demonstrates their extensive family connections. Molly received only the most basic of instruction for her basket weaving, and has not seen or read any books on the craft, yet she has managed to develop her work to a highly skilled level. Molly works very hard as an artist and for her community.