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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Ngayulu Minyma Tjanpinya, I am a Tjanpi Woman

2018
Tjunkaya Tapaya OAM and Tjanpi Desert Weavers

Tjanpi (dry grass), acrylic wool, raffia, wire (overall: 85.0 cm x 155.0 cm depth 111.0 cm)

Artist's Statement:

'I [made] this self-portrait for the Obsessed exhibition. I tried to make it really look like me. I had to keep adding layers on because she was too skinny. Layers and layers of tjanpi, all stitched on. This is the first time I have tried to do this. There have been lots of jokes going round amongst the other ladies about how she looks, and what she might get up to. One of my brother cousins' (Kunmanara Carroll) is calling her sister. I am weaving animals to be stitched to my self-portrait, like they are pouring out of me. That's how my weaving ideas come. Flowing from my hands and body.

I have three little dogs: Cindy, Chocolate and Oogi. Everyone knows them in community, they go everywhere with me, even places dogs are not supposed to go. They have special privilege as my personal dogs. Sometimes those little dogs play around in the raffia and make a mess while I am weaving, and sometimes they sit quiet beside me, keeping me company. Chocolate dog always wants to sit on my lap and I have to tell him: 'rooma, (give me room)'.

In my own work I like to make curious faces on my animals. I go walking in country, hunting for bush tucker, and sometimes I see an animal with something in its mouth. It's been hunting too. I go right home and make it exactly as I saw it: perentie lizard (ngintaka), kangaroo (malu), emu (kalaya) small lizard (tjati), bush turkey (kipara), all these animals.

When I am working on a big Tjanpi work, I work on it every day, all day until it is finished, and then I get back to my painting. When it is a big work I feel to keep the work going, that's how it becomes beautiful and strong. I call the other weavers to come and sit down and help with the stitching and the young women too, so that they learn how to construct the big works. I feel happy when I am including all the other artists in the big work, and I feel happy when I see the young women learning our weaving skills.'

Purchased 2022
© Tjunkaya Tapaya OAM, Tjanpi Desert Weavers

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Tjanpi Desert Weavers

Tjunkaya Tapaya OAM (age 71 in 2018)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

© National Portrait Gallery 2022
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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