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.