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Delissa Walker 'Kakan Mat,2019' Woven Mat 1

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Delissa Walker

Kuku Yalanji, b. 1990 (Cairns)

Kakan Mat, 2019
black palm bers, raf a


“These weavings are made from our Black Palm fibre, which I harvest myself near the Daintree Rainforest. I have also used pink natural rafia in these designs.

I use the same techniques as my Kaken (baskets) but rather than curving them up, I keep weaving them at and more open. I have not made many of these but recently made a big one for Cape York AFL House for girls.

They came about through experimentation. I begin weaving the same as my baskets, true to my Kuku Yalanji roots then I allow the weaving to branch out showing my individuality as a contemporary artist

Delissa Walker is an exciting young artist who has taken on the skillful ‘kakan’ basket weaving synonymous with Kuku Yalanji culture and her grandmother Ngadijina Wilma Walker.

“Nana Walker taught me how to weave when I was little and she taught lots of other people in Mossman too.
But I’m one of the only people who is working with the black palm which I harvest from up home and near Mum’s place at Cow Bay in the Daintree. For every palm I take I plant another as they can take 30 years to be ready."

For a basket I might use a whole black palm, stripping all the fronds from the top of the tree. They are very strong bers and there is quite a process to prepare it. My cousins often use the beautiful timber from the trunk for carvings so nothing is wasted.

These baskets been made for thousands of years up here. They are used for all sorts of things, even carrying babies. When my Nana was little her mother put her in a Kakan basket to hide her when they were taking Aboriginal ‘mixed-race’ babies from Mossman.

I use the same basketry knotting and tying techniques to create my baskets and contemporary pieces like my jewellery and these open woven mats.