Nellie Coulthard was born at Wintinna Homestead near Oodnadatta. She moved to Indulkana with her family when she was a young girl. After she finished school Nellie worked at the Child Parent Centre in Indulkana. This was when the school was still quite new. Nellie has one child and four grandchildren. As an artist Nellie is an accomplished textile maker of both baskets and batik. She has a natural eye for detail and likes to use bright cheerful colours in her creations.
Nellie has been weaving baskets since 2007 and after attending a Tjanpi skills development workshop in October 2014, has since applied her outstanding basket making skills to create an exciting series of sculptural works. Already an acclaimed painter at Iwantja Arts, Nellie is inventive in her Tjanpi practice, and consistently produces highly imaginative pieces which are wonderful depictions of 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 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 governed by Aboriginal directors. 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.