Lorna Fencer Napurrula (Lorna Fencer Napurrurla, Lorna Fencer Naparulla)

Lorna Fencer Napurrula picture

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, NT.

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, , Melbourne
  • Rainbow Serpent, Vaucluse, NSW.
  • John McCaughey Memorial Art Prize, NGV, Melbourne
  • Australian Heritage Commission, Canberra
  • Yulyulu,Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
  • Gondwana Gallerie, Rome, Italy
  • Tjinyipjila Exhibition, Australian Embassy, Washington D.C., USA
  • Indigenous Art of the Dreamtime, United Nations Building, New York, USA
  • St. 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



1997 Winner, Gold Coast City Art Award;
Conrad Jupiters Casino, Gold Coast.
1998 John McCaughey Memorial Art Award;
Commissioned artist National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.



  • Christensen Collection, Museum of Victoria, Melbourne
  • National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
  • 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.)

Bush Potato
AUD 3000

134cm x 28cm
Acrylic on canvas

Bush Potato Dreaming
AUD 4500

73cm x 52cm
Acrylic on canvas

Bush Potato
AUD 6500

43cm x 70cm
Acrylic on canvas

White Bush Potato
AUD 4400

80cm x 52cm
Acrylic on canvas

Caterpillar Dreaming
AUD 4000

49cm x 97cm
Acrylic on canvas

Potato Dreaming
AUD 2500

97cm x 50cm
Acrylic on canvas

Bush Potato
AUD 2200

22cm x 59cm
Acrylic on canvas

Bush Potato
AUD 1900

21cm x 64cm
Acrylic on canvas

Bush Potato
AUD 1900

24cm x 46cm
Acrylic on canvas

Bush Potato
AUD 5500

52cm x 97cm
Acrylic on canvas

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