Lorna Fencer Napurrula (Lorna Fencer Napurrurla, Lorna Fencer Naparulla)
Lorna passed away on 7 December 2006 in Katherine Hospital, having been admitted earlier in the day. She had been painting at the gallery just the week before.
Lorna Fencer Napurrula was born in 1920 in Yumurrpa
country which is situated near the Granites in the Tanami Desert,
Northern Territory. The Yarla (Yam) Dreaming track originates from
this region and travels north toward Lajamanu. She is a senior Warlpiri
(language/tribal law group) woman.
Lorna lived predominantly at Lajamanu and
regularly worked in galleries in Katherine.
Whilst Lorna has "painted up" all her
life, meaning that she was raised as a skilled painter of decorative
body designs for ceremonies, her artworks on canvas only date from
1986. Lorna initiated her rise in the art world by painting for
the Warnayaka Art Centre, Northern Territory. In recent years, Lorna's
work has become increasingly extravagant, abstract and sensual,
catching the attention of art collectors from around the world and
giving rise to comparisons with the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye.
Lorna's Dreamings include Yarla (Yam or Bush Potato),
Wapirti and Marlujarra. These Dreamings entitle her to paint subjects
such as the bush yam (sweet potato), "ngalatji" (little
white flower), bush tomato, caterpillar, wallaby and certain mens
stories including boomerangs.
Lorna typically paints with acrylics on primed
Belgium linen or unstretched cotton duck. Very occasionally she
will also paint onto primed art boards. Her artefacts include coolamons,
kudurru (fighting sticks), quartz rocks and slate.
Lorna's style is extremely bold, free and abstract.
She applies the paint in liberal quantities to the brush before
touching down on the canvas and layering the colours one upon the
next. Upon completion of the work, only the most public aspects
of her Dreaming are revealed to the observer, the most intimate
details are concealed. Lorna, atypical of many contemporary Aboriginal
artists, also uses a palette of vibrant colours.
Lorna painted extensively for the Warnayaka Art
Centre at Lajamanu with special commissions for fine art galleries
such as Jinta Desert Art,
Sydney and Aboriginal Art Galleries of Australia, Melbourne. Lorna's
artistic achievements have been recognised by her inclusion in the
Murdoch Court at the National Gallery of Victoria and her invitation
to participate in the triennial 1998 John McCaughey Memorial Art
Prize. In 1997 Lorna was granted the Gold Coast City Art Award.
Major exhibitions of her artwork include a 1988
ensemble exhibition "People, Place, and Art" held at the
Hilton International Hotel in Adelaide, South Australia. In 1991
her work was included in a group exhibition "Aboriginal Art"
shown in the Australian Embassy Washington, USA. In the same year,
Lorna was included in "Aboriginal Art & Spirituality,"
curated by Rosemary Crumlin & Anthony Knight in Canberra. In
1994 Lorna exhibited in "Yarpakurlangu Wirrkardu" alongside
a range of emerging artists from Batchelor College in Tennant Creek,
By 1996 Lorna saw her works displayed in the group
exhibition "All About Art" at the Alcaston Gallery in Melbourne followed by the "Me Warlpiri"
exhibition in 1997. In the same year, the National Gallery of Victoria,
Melbourne, hosted "Women's Body Paint" and "Paint
Up Big: Walpiri Women's Art From Lajamanu" group exhibitions.
The National Gallery acquired some of Lorna's finest works following
the exhibitions. Growing popularity increased Lorna's profile during
1998 and gave rise to a solo exhibition of her work, "Yulyulu,"
at Alcaston House Gallery in Melbourne. In 1999 Lorna Fencer Napurrula
was featured in a mixed exhibition at Gondwana Gallerie in Rome,
Italy and the Tjinyipjila Exhibition at the Australian Embassy in
Washington D.C., USA. As recent as late 1999 her works featured
in the Indigenous Art of the Dreamtime held in the main foyer of
the United Nations Building New York, USA.
During 1998 the Australian Heritage Commission
Collection, Canberra, acquired some of her works, and today Lorna's
art is also held in the Christensen Collections of Victoria; Holmes
a Court Collection of Western Australia; and by a number of fine
art galleries and private collectors around Australia and abroad.
The following video shows Lorna painting and singing at 21 First Street.
- People, Place &
Art, Hilton International Hotel, Adelaide
- Paint Up Big, National
Gallery of Victoria
- Aboriginal Art
& Spirituality, High Court of Australia, ACT
- Aboriginal Art, Australian Embassy, Washington, USA.
- Yapakurlangu Virrkardu,
Batchelor College, Tenant Creek, NT
- All About Art,
- Rainbow Serpent, Vaucluse, NSW.
- John McCaughey
Memorial Art Prize, NGV, Melbourne
- Australian Heritage Commission, Canberra
- Yulyulu,Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
- Gondwana Gallerie,
- Tjinyipjila Exhibition, Australian Embassy, Washington
- Indigenous Art of the Dreamtime, United Nations Building,
New York, USA
Valentine's Exhibition, Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane
- Tracks Across the Landscape, Land Rover Showroom, Sydney
- 'Wild' Warlpiri Woman, Coo-ee
Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney
- Yapa,Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
- A Tribute to Lorna Napurrula Fencer, Original & Authentic Aboriginal Art Gallery, Melbourne
Gold Coast City Art Award;
Conrad Jupiters Casino, Gold Coast.
McCaughey Memorial Art Award;
Commissioned artist National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
- Christensen Collection, Museum
of Victoria, Melbourne
- National Gallery of Victoria,
- The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth
- Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
- Artbank, Sydney
- Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Queensland
- Gantner Myer Collection
- Margaret Carnegie Collection
- Laverty Collection, Sydney
(Biography courtesy of Jinta
Arts, Sydney, and Coo-ee
Aboriginal Art, Paddington, NSW.)