New article featuring the stories of Lorna Fencer Napurrula

You can visit Lorna Fencer's story page on our website to read some of the fascinating  Jukurrpa (Dreamings/stories) that are the subject matter of her paintings.  Images have been included to show how the artworks differ from subject to subject.  Even though she painted only a limited number of dreamings, Lorna's versatile talent ensured that all works were as fresh and individual as if she had never painted the subject before.  At times she concentrated on the detail of a plant, while at others, in the same story, she covered a wide scope showing the plant in its total environment.  All abstracted, all powerful and colourful: Lorna's great artwork paved the way for generations of Indigenous artists to come, by breaking free of tradition to represent the traditional stories in a highly contemporary way. 

Artwork stories are found on our website, along with many other interesting topics, under 'About Aboriginal Art', a link on the left hand side of our home page.  Lorna's page is under the heading of 'Dreamtime Stories'.

You may also like to look at her biography on our website.

Happy reading.

Lorna Fencer Photo Page

Such a powerful and extraordinary person was Lorna Fencer, I think she deserves a photo page on our blog.  As she is no longer around to attend her exhibitions, these photos will give you some insight into the persona of the artist and I think help to put her bold and uncompromising artwork into context. 

The next image is my favourite!


Next a totally different image:  what a range she had!  It was said that she only had to look at someone to immediately assess their inner spirit, and of course, she then acted according to her judgement.


On one famous occasion, Lorna attended her exhibition - the gallery had been preparing it for days, hanging every work just right and ensuring it was perfect for when Lorna and the guests arrived.  It was - but not for Lorna.

She looked around the gallery, and pointed at one of the paintings .... 'That one there - take it down and put it on the floor' she demanded.  Stressed gallery staff rushed to do her bidding.  But then to their dismay, and that of the crowd at the opening, she proceeded to march around pointing to another, and another and another of the artworks and demanding that they too be put on the floor.  Lorna then walked out of the gallery and was gone for about 20 minutes, leaving gallery staff and guests in a state of some consternation.

When Lorna came back, she had stripped to the waist and had donned the appropriate body paint.  The astounded and then delighted onlookers watched as she proceeded to dance around each painting, gesturing, and talking and singing its story at some length.  What an amazing treat, and what an amazing person to give such an impromptu performance to introduce her art!

Lorna liked to introduce her art, although not always in such spectacular fashion.  Here she is, with her typical finger raised posture, as she explains this artwork to an avid audience.  And look at the artwork - as bold and spectacular as the artist herself.

And here she introduces another:



On one occasion in Tasmania, Lorna visited the local gaol.  She spent the first day with the women, painting, talking about the art, singing the stories, joking and engaging everyone present to the point where there was raucous laughter and a very happy and excited audience.  Lorna could play to the crowd and found just the right way to work with the women inmates.

The next day, she spent with the male inmates, many of whom were the most serious offenders and a very rough and normally hard core crowd.  The atmosphere was completely different from the day before, as Lorna manged to touch the hearts of the inmates with her art and her story.  I was told that the men were very quiet and respectful, almost reverent, awed, and some were even tearful during the experience.  What an amazing person Lorna must have been to engender such responses from those whom she encountered.


All this powerful interaction took place, in the big city, far from Lorna's homelands,  in unfamiliar environments and with people whose culture and lifestyles she barely knew.  It is hard to reconcile her extraordinary confidence and ability to inspire others from all walks of life with the fact that Lorna was still a traditional Aboriginal woman, part of, and living in her lands. 

Such a woman was the great and incomparable Lorna Fencer Napurrula!  I wish she were still alive today.

Lorna Fencer Napurrula Exhibition - 2 March 2013

Lorna Fencer Napurrula (c.1920 - 2006) has long been recognised as one of Australia's most influential and talented Indigenous artists, and we are fortunate indeed, following her triumphant touring exhibition in 2012, to show an exhibition of her works - this time all works are for sale.

In the Aboriginal Art world, Lorna's artistic voice has been one of the strongest and most original (in keeping with her own large personality).  She transformed the way that traditional stories were painted with an increasingly vigorous, free, colourful and marvellously creative expression - and the older she  became and the more experienced, this joyous outpouring became more and more exciting.

Lorna Fencer Napurrula  "Ngarlajiya by Spring Water"   138 x 303cm  LNFJ108

Our exhibition opens on 2 March 2013 in the ground floor gallery at 680 Darling Street, Rozelle and of course there is an online exhibition too for our international and interstate clients.  

All artworks will be online from 1 March and available for purchase online or in the gallery.  Enquiries to +612 95555283 or

For a taste of Lorna's artwork as it relates to her traditional stories, visit our Dreamtime Stories section on the artist.  Her stories are a fascinating insight into the Aboriginal culture and the artwork is of course sublime.

Jack Dale passes

It is with much sadness that we announce the death last week of the venerable Kimberley elder Jack Dale, aged 93.   We had a wonderful exhibition of his works - what turned out to be his last body of work - a couple of months ago.  The show was special because Jack virtually got off his sick bed to start painting with enthusiasm after several years of sickness and debilitating strokes.  

As many elder artists do, Jack turned to stories of his spiritual ancestors the Wandjina, and of his early life in the rough and tumble of the Kimberley.  The infamous prison tree, the bombing of Darwin, and the role of the Wandjinas featured in the show with the stories of each artwork displayed alongside (stories are hand written on the back of each artwork as dictated by Jack while he painted them).

Such was Jack's standing as an artist and a narrator of events, that the Australian War Memorial purchased one of the works for their collection.  Other collectors too were quick to add them to their acquisitions.

We have now been requested by Jack's family to place the remaining few works back on sale and have done so in a special exhibition, proceeds from which will go to further assist Jack's family in covering expenses for the funeral.

This is a chance to acquire a special piece of Australian Indigenous and/or Kimberley history from the final body of work by this important and unique artist.

View Jack Dale's artworks at Kate Owen Gallery.