Shuklay Tahpo

Where I work

I live with 7 other family members. I work on a wooden tapestry frame that is clamped to a chair in the main living area. Often I work at night when it is quiet or, in the warmer weather, I take my loom into the garden where it is peaceful.

What inspired my work

I think about plants and nature and the landscape that I grew up in Burma, now Myanmar.

How I made it

Before I start weaving I spend a lot of time thinking about what to weave, but I do not prepare a design. I make a selection of colored yarns and the tapestry evolves on the loom. I have been weaving for 7 years. Every new tapestry surprises me. My motto is ‘slowly, slowly’.

Shuklay Tahpo, Floating leaves, 2018, cotton & acrylic, 55 x 37 cm; Photo: Tim Gresham

What I am working on

I find it harder and harder to get time for weaving, in my busy household. My back gets sore if I sit for too long, but I love weaving and sometimes when I can’t sleep I look at images of all the tapestries I have made. It makes me happy and proud and I know that I shall keeping weaving. I have had many exhibitions with my friends Mu Naw Poe and Cha Mai Oo. We hope to have another one in 2021.


Shuklay Tahpo was born in Burma and came to Australia in 2008. She is Karen, an ethnic minority group that was persecuted by the Burmese army. Shuklay spent 20 years as a refugee in Thailand where she worked as a cook. In 2013 she was taught to weave by Sara Lindsay, who continues to act as her mentor. Shuklay has exhibited her tapestries regularly since 2014.

Instagram: karentapestry