Tinpulya Mervin


3651-16 Sculpture

Tjanpi (wild harvested grass) with purple and yellow/orange wool, yellow legs and blue and orange raffia binding.

64L x 12W x 40H

Out of stock

Artist Biography

Tinpulya was born near the remote South Australia community of Fregon. She is the sister of Wipana Jimmy and now lives in Watarru. Tinpulya sometimes collaborates on her fibre art with her neice Anne Dixon and her sister Wipana Jimmy.

“Where I come from is Waru Tjukurpa, which means Fire Dreaming. Because of that Waru Tjukurpa I have certain healing powers. It is from here that I get my ngangkari powers to heal children. Watarru is my mother’s country. Our mother and father went over to Ernabella (SA) to become shephards, and so I was born near Kunma Piti. That’s how I came to be going to Ernabella school and learnt to read and write in Pitjantjatjara. In recent years people moved back from Ernabella to Kaltjiti, and then they moved back to Watarru. These changes happened around the same time as the changes of government.

Now we are living back on our own traditional country and quite a few of us are working for Land Management, cleaning our rockholes, monitoring rare and endangered species such as brush tailed possums and black footed wallabies, mallee fowls and great desert skinks and marsupial moles. We are cleaning the same rockholes that our strong and healthy grandfathers and grandmothers would clean and drink from. We are caring for the land that they cared for and which gave them fruits and seeds and berries with which to raise strong and healthy children.”

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.