Lorna Fencer Napurrula

Lorna Fencer Napurrula

View Artworks



DOB: c.1920 - 7 Dec 2006
Born: near Chila Well, NT
LANGUAGE GROUP: Warlpiri
COMMUNITY: Lajamanu, NT

Lorna was born c.1920 in Yumurrpa country, which is situated near Chilla Well, south of the Granites Mine Area of the Tanami Desert. Yumurrpa is an important Yam Dreaming site, and the yam is a food staple for desert people that also hold important spiritual significance.

In 1949 many Walpiri people, including Lorna, were forcibly transported to the government settlement of Lajamanu at Hookers Creek, roughly 250 miles to the north of their own country around Yuendumu. Lorna nevertheless maintained and strengthened her cultural identity through ceremonial activity and art, and asserted her position as a prominent elder and teacher in her community.

Lorna was a skilled painter of decorative body designs for women's ceremony, and in 1986 began to paint artworks on canvas. Over the next twenty years Lorna became a greatly admired artist who, along with Emily Kame Kngwarreye, pioneered the women's art movement. They departed from the traditional iconography that men painted to a more personal and artistic expression.

Lorna had a strong personality. She has been described as a non-conformist, revolutionary, tough, funny, flirty, bossy and wicked, with a razor sharp wit. There was an energy and independent nature about her which is reflected in her paintings. She was a senior custodian of several Dreaming stories, and the assertiveness with which she painted was evidence of her great knowledge of her culture. The Yarla Dreaming, which tells of the ancestral women from the Napurrula and Nakamarra skin groups searching for bush potato, is a dominant theme in her work.

Lorna's art is extremely bold, free, expressive, abstract and experimental. Many of her artworks burst off the wall with a physical or emotional force that a photograph simply cannot capture. One example of this is her well known painting entitled Grief (1997) which was painted following the death of her son.

Lorna would load the brush with paint before touching down on the canvas and layer the colours one upon the next. There is great emphasis on concealing intimate details about the dreaming stories, which leads viewers to continually gaze at her artworks, hoping that they will reveal more of their mysteries. Her final works were increasingly loose, gestural and layered. Lorna seemed to find a new freedom and joy of expression which radiated from her stunning canvasses

Lorna sadly passed away on the 7th December 2006. She is remembered as a vivacious woman and an important community elder. She is also acknowledged as making an important contribution to Indigenous Australian art. Represented in the National Gallery, State Galleries and major private collections, Lorna's work has always been in strong demand, particularly for the discerning collector. Her work is highly valued.

Collections

  • Hank Ebes Collection, Melbourne
  • Aboriginal Art Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Artbank, Sydney
  • Australian Heritage Commission Collection, Canberra
  • Christensen Collection, held by Museum of Victoria, Melbourne
  • Gantner Myer Collection of Aboriginal Art
  • Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Gold Coast
  • Holmes a Court Collection, Perth
  • Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth
  • Laverty Collection, Sydney
  • Leewuin Estate, Perth
  • Margaret Carnegie Collection
  • Museum and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin
  • Museum of Victoria, Melbourne
  • National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
  • National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
  • Shepparton Art Museum, Shepparton VIC
  • Fondation Burkhardt-Felder Arts et Culture, Moitiers, Switzerland

Awards and Recognition

2007 Top 50 Collectable Artists, Australian Art Collector Magazine
2004 21st NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist
2000 17th NATSIAA, Darwin - Finalist
1998 John McCaughey Memorial Art Prize, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
1997 Gold Coast City Art Award, Conrad Jupiters Casino, Gold Coast

History


Selected Solo Exhibitions

2013 The Incomparable Lorna Fencer, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2009 The Genius of Lorna Fencer Napurrula, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2005 Lorna Napurrula Fencer: Recent Paintings, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
2001 A Tribute To Lorna Napurrula Fencer, Original & Authentic Aboriginal Art Gallery, Melbourne
1997 Me Warlpiri, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne

Selected Group Exhibitions

2021 Voyage across Aboriginal Australia - Founders' Favourites, Fondation Burkhardt-Felder Arts et Culture, Moitiers, Switzerland
2020 Colours of Spring, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2020 Still in the Desert, Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane
2020 Kitty Simon and the Ladies of Lajamanu, Cooee Gallery, Sydney
2019 Defining Tradition | the colurists, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2017 Gems of the Stockroom, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2012 The Colourists: Kudditji Kngwarreye and Lorna Napurrula Fencer, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
2012 The Colourists: Kudditji Kngwarreye & Lorna Napurrula Fencer, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
2012 Heirs and Successors, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
2010 Tradition to Modernity, Central Art - Aboriginal Art Store, Tasmania Art Fair, Launceston
2010 Stories from the Centre, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2009 Size Matters, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2008 11 Amazing Women Artists From the Central and Western Desert, Central Art - Aboriginal Art Store, Alice Springs
2008 Women's Law, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
2008 The Genius of Lorna Fencer Napurrula, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2006 Luminaries of the Desert, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
2005 Decouvrir Rever, Investir, Australian Embassy, Paris
2005 Lorna Napurrula Fencer: Recent Paintings, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
2005 All About Yumarrpa, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
2004 The Dancers - Warlpiri Women, Art Mob, Hobart
2004 Colour Power, The Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
2003 Lorna Napurrula Fencer: New Paintings, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
2002 Lorna Napurrula Fencer - The Big Picture, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne.
2002 Lorna Napurrula Fencer - Paintings from the Tanami Desert, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
2002 Lorna Fencer - Inner Spring - New Works from the Tanami, Mary Place Gallery, Sydney
2001 A Tribute to Lorna Napurrula Fencer, Original & Authentic Aboriginal Art Gallery, Melbourne
2001 Tandanya Cultural Institute, Adelaide
2001 Icons of Australian Aboriginal Art, Singapore
2001 Little Gems, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
2000 Aboriginal Art Galleries of Australia, Melbourne
2000 Artists from Lajamanu - Tanami Desert, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
2000 Opening of Yuwayi Art Centre, Perth
1999 St Valentine's Exhibition, Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane
1999 Tracks Across the Landscape, Land Rover Showroom, Sydney
1999 Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney
1999 Aboriginal Art Galleries of Australia, Melbourne
1999 United Nations Building, New York, USA
1999 Yapa, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
1999 Embassy of Australia, Washington, USA
1999 Paintings from Lajamanu Community, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
1998 Australian Heritage Commission, Canberra
1998 Yulyulu, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
1998 Warnayaka Warlpiri, Karen Brown Gallery, Darwin
1998 Wild Warlpiri Women, Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney
1998 John McCaughey Memorial Art Prize, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
1998 6th Australian Contemporary Art Fair, Exhibition Building, Melbourne
1997 Recent Acquisitions, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
1997 Women's Body Paint, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
1997 Me Warlpiri, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
1996 All About Art, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
1994 Gabriel Gallery, Melbourne
1991 Yapakurlangu Wirrkardu, Batchelor College, Tennant Creek
1991 Aboriginal Art, Australia Embassy, Washington, USA
1991 Paint Up Big: Warlpiri Women's Art from Lajamanu, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
1991 Aboriginal Art and Spirituality, High Court, Canberra
1990 S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney
1990 Paint Up Big, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
1990 Robert Holmes a Court Collection (touring USA), USA
1988 People, Place & Art, Hilton International Hotel, Adelaide