A New Door Opens at the Gallery

If you are a KO Gallery Club Member, you would have received an email from Kate advising you that as of 30 June 2013, she would be retiring from Kate Owen Gallery. Kate will be concentrating on her two other loves - painting her own artworks and roaming the big wide world!

But never fear, as Kate Owen Gallery and its entire staff are in the secure hands of the new Gallery owner and Director, Geoffrey Henderson. Geoff has been an important studio supplier to the business for the past six years and he knows the Gallery and Aboriginal art world inside out.

Watch this space, as we will introduce you to Geoff and his vision for the gallery in our next blog post!

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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.

What’s new to the Collectors’ Gallery

Our sun-filled third floor gallery has been glowing with stunning artworks of both exceptional aesthetic merit as well as historical significance since October last year. By dedicating this expansive space solely to museum-quality pieces, our collection has grown significantly as we continue to acquire special works by those artists who have marked their place within the history of the Aboriginal art movement. Private collectors have come forward with paintings they have had hidden away in dark storerooms to contribute to this gallery, some having never been on public display. Community owned and run art centres have also provided us with their most ‘superstar’ paintings. Our collection continues to expand and evolve in exciting ways. 

Representing a host of Australia's greatest master artists from across the central desert of Australia, this gallery functions as an opportunity to acquire the best of contemporary Aboriginal art in an inviting and informative environment. By virtue of both cultural and artistic importance, the works could take pride of place in both museums and public galleries anywhere in the world. Leading indigenous artists represented here include Clifford Possum, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Turkey Tolson, Mick Namarari, Johnny Walangkura, Billy Stockman and many many more.

Three recent additions to our Collectors’ Gallery:

Patrick Mung Mung,  NGARRGOOROON - WAPMM461/08, natural ochre pigment on canvas, 120 x 180cm, $16,550

The staff were thrilled to acquire this striking, yet subtle ochre work by Warmun’s Patrick Mung Mung. Soft and delicate tones in sand and teal are contrasted with rich and deep browns, marouns and charcoal. The dot work outlines the undulating landscape of the Warmun region and ads a shimmering effect on the eye. The naïve style trees give a skewed perspective on the land, adding further character to the bold design. This is a strong work by Patrick Mung Mung, clearly displaying all he is capable of as an artist.

Patrick Mung Mung  is a senior artist, and respected elder of the Warmun Community in the East Kimberley. Painting since 1991, Patrick’s intricate knowledge of his country and cultural memory are powerfully linked in his work.  Patrick’s work is strongly influenced both aesthetically and thematically by the previous generation of Warmun artists, which include the famous Rover Thomas and Paddy Jaminji.

Eubena Nampitjin, Lucy Yukenbarri, Muntja  Nungura (collaboration)  - KARYANKGU (rockhole), MALIKI, TJINJULLU (soakwater)
ELMX645/96, acrylic on linen, 120 x 180cm, $29,300

What a rare and special collaborative piece by three highly acclaimed Balgo artists; Eubena Nampitjin, Lucy Yukenbarri and Muntja Nungura. All three artists depict their Dreamings in unique aesthetics, yet mutal tones and colours binds the three sections of this painting together into an extraordinary harmony and unity. The rich colours and linear shapes combine to create an artwork that has been beaming from one of our most prominent positions in the Collectors’ Gallery for the past weeks. 

The small Aboriginal Community of Balgo, Western Australia has produced some fantastic artists since the inception of an artist cooperative. Linked by both the Great Sandy desert and the Tanami Desert the artists draw from a rich cultural history in their work. 

Pansy Napangardi, Willy Wag Tail - PNAX001, acrylic on linen, 122 x 183cm, $16,500

In this recent acquisition, Warlpiri artist Pansy Napangardi depicts her Willy Wag Tail Dreaming in a dynamic yet balanced design. The symmetrical lines guide the eye into the concentric circle at the centre. The mix of warm and cool colours, all marked intricate dot work, creates a colour tension that shimmers and varies in different lighting conditions. 

Pansy Napangardi grew up on a mission settlement at Haast Bluff in Central Australia. She moved to Alice Springs in 1989, where she is now considered to be one of the foremost artists from Alice Springs. Pansy, with her sister  Eunice Napangardi, commenced painting on canvas very early in terms of the history of the movement. Although it has been said that Aboriginal women have only been painting since the 1980's, Pansy began recording her dreamings in the early 1970's at the start of the Papunya Art Movement and reportedly observed some senior male Papunya artists there to develop her technique.  Her paintings represent the fertility and glory of her traditional land, making a statement about the relationship of the her people and the land. Pansy's work gives voice to her traditional beliefs and symbolises a triumphal cultural statement by the once near defeated people of the Central Australian Desert. In 1989 Pansy won the 6th National Aboriginal Art Award and in 1993 won the Northern Territory Art Award. She is held in major collections throughout Australia, including the National Gallery of Victoria, The Queensland Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, amongst others.

All are available for purchase, complete with associated documentation, photos and videos where available.