The Tjanpi Desert Weavers are an art collective involving more than 400 Aboriginal women from twenty-eight communities across the desert regions of South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Tjanpi is the Pitiantjatjara word for spinifex grass. The women use grasses and coloured fibres to weave figurative sculptures and containers. Dried tjanpi is coiled and bundled in combination with other materials such as coloured yarn and raffia, string and wire, animal fur, beads and seeds. Found objects are often incorporated into their work.

Year 2 Immanuel Primary School

Year 2 students practiced their weaving, winding and wrapping skills to create their own yarn sticks inspired by the work by Tjanpi Desert Weavers. Students watched Jess Show N Tell | Tjanpi Desert Weavers video as well as a video that captured the Tjanpi Desert Weavers teaching a group of women how to make a sculpture. We also joined in a live Zoom from The National Portrait Gallery for the reading of the picture book 'Tanjki Tjuta Donkeys' by the Tjanpi Desert Weavers. As a class we also looked at images of other ways in which First Nations people use weaving practices, including artists Yvonne Koolmatrie and Maree Clarke.

We all went outside under the gum trees to choose our sticks. Each child chose three sticks that had fallen from the tree. Students then watched as I demonstrated how to wrap the wool around the stick so it would not come unstuck and how to join new pieces of wool. To finish we used a small amount of hot glue to fasten the end of the wool. Students could work at their own skill level and pace, some students managed to weave 3 or more sticks, others one.

The children naturally progressed as their confidence grew. It was awesome to see the children make small collections of sticks and place them in recycled glass jars we had collected. Some children chose to wind the wool around thin sticks that had gum nuts attached. This was particularly effective and added an additional challenge. A few children were so inspired by the sculptures the Tjanpi Desert Weavers that they wanted to try making their own sculptures.

- Sharyn Lynch, Art Specialist Teacher, Immanuel College