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Artist BiographiesBiography - Lorna Fencer Napurrula


Lorna Fencer Napurrula is a senior artist from Lajamanu, in the central Northern Territory and is Warlpiri speaker. She was born around 1924 at Yartulu Yartulu, and is custodian of land called Yumurrpa, south of the Granites Mine in the Tanami Desert in the Northern Territory.

She is custodian of Dreamings associated with bush potato (yarla), caterpillar (luju), bush onion, yam and also bush tomato, bush plum, many different seeds and water, for the Napurrula, Nakamarra, Japurrula, and Jakamarra skin groups.

Lorna Fencer

The travels of Napurrula and Nakamarrra moiety or "skin" groups are the inspiration for Lorna's work. The yarla (yam) Dreaming track originates from the country of her birth and travels north toward Lajamanu.

In 1949 many Warlpiri people, including Lorna Napurrula, were forcibly transported to the government settlement of Lajamanu at Hookers Creek, in the country of the Gurindji people, 400 kilometres north of their own country near Yuendumu. Lorna nevertheless has maintained her cultural identity through ceremonial activity and art, and has asserted her position as a prominent elder and teacher in the Lajamanu community.

She began painting on canvas in 1986 - before that she had painted on traditional women's coolamons and digging sticks. Since that time she has developed her own distinctive personal style of vivid colours and swirling designs based on the various bush food and other Dreamings. Lorna does not paint in a classical dot painting style and produces works of a more modernist appearance. She painted initially with the Warnayaka Art Centre in Lajamanu, but now also works with major commerical galleries as well. In recent years, her work has become increasingly free, abstract and sensual.

Her first solo exhibition was in 1997 and since then has taken part in at least one solo exhibition annually, as well as in group exhibitions. Her work is represented in public galleries in Australia and in private galleries both in australia and overseas. She has also participated in group exhibitions at the Warnayaka Art Centre, where she is a member of the artist's co-operative.


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