Published by on


Weaving is a skill that has been practiced by Martu for thousands of years in the making of utilitarian and ceremonial items, such as yakapiri (bark sandals) and manguri (head pads for balancing carved carrying dishes). However, coiled basket weaving as an artform is a relatively newly adopted practice for the Martu, a skill passed on from Central Desert artists in the 1990’s. Leading Martu fibre arts practitioner Nola Taylor says that basket weaving was so popular amongst Martu women that it “spread across the desert like a waru (fire)”.

Each basket is built up through wrapping fine bundles of grass in brightly coloured wool and then stitching each round on to the previous one. The baskets are primarily made from puntayarra and minarri (Amphipogon Caricinus) grass, usually collected incidentally during trips to visit family, attend ceremonies, maintain Country, and hunt and gather bush tucker. Martu artists have developed a distinctive style of basketry and individual artists continue to develop new designs and incorporate novel materials, including steel, wire and wood, into their work. 

Name: Kathleen Maree Sorensen

Language: Kartujarra

Community: Jigalong


"I have experience working with different mediums such as felting, jewellery making, carving into wood for printing, and using a pallet knife in my art. I'm also learning from the senior artists from the other Martu communities. Everybody has their own style in their art. I love the stories they tell me from back in their early days.

The good relationship I have with the other artists and working with Martumili is based on respect; the respect I have for elders, and knowledge of two cultures, Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal. That makes me the perfect person to help the Martu people of the Western Desert region to understand how the art centre operates and other things that influence Martu people’s lives".

- Kathleen Maree Sorenson


Kathleen started painting at Jigalong Aboriginal community in 1999 and completed a visual arts certificate at Pundulmurra TAFE campus in Port Hedland in 2000. Kathleen paints stories about her Country, various types of bush tucker, stories from her mum and from family trips out bush.

Kathleen experiments with different mediums, working toward the development of her own unique style. Kathleen is also a basket maker; she learned how to make baskets from her Aunt, Dora Booth. "My Aunty asked me to help her start the centre ring of the basket one day and then I started to get the hang of making baskets myself. I started collecting spinifex and sitting with my Aunty and working with her making baskets, then I started making my own." 

© the artist / art centre