Lorna Fencer Napurrula
Lorna Fencer Napurrula c.1920 – 2006 was a senior custodian of the Walpiri people and a renowned Aboriginal Artist. Lorna was and is admirably recognized for her abstract designs combining vibrant color's with swirling motions.
Born circa 1920, Lorna Fencer lived a traditional lifestyle in her birthplace Yartula Yartula in the Tanami desert, Central Australia. In 1949 as a result of Australian politics of the time, Lorna and her people were involuntarily relocated to the Lajamanu establishment along Hookers Creek, some 400 kilometres from her birthplace. Whilst living in the traditional land of the Gurindji people Lorna maintained her own Walpiri cultural identity through sacred ceremonies, storytelling and her expressive art.
Lorna began her artistic career “painting up”; being raised as a skilled painter of decorative body designs for sacred ceremonies, a ritual of the Walpiri people. It was not until 1986 that Lorna transferred these body painting designs onto canvas. Having already explored and experimented with painting styles, Lorna possessed a talent of painting her entitled dreamings onto canvas contrasting with traditional styles. The freedom in Lorna's brush stroke combined with the use of bold colors created a modernist dimension in her paintings. These abstract paintings layered with color and fluid movements no doubt attracted and continue to attract notoriety in the Australian art scene.
Initially painting for the Warnayaka Art centre, and one of the first to paint on canvas in the Lajamanu region Lorna held a strong presence in the art scene. Leading a movement with fellow artist Emily Kngwarreye, away from the traditional styles, Lorna did not use the traditional dot painting style.
The strong cultural influence and inspiration in Lorna Fencer Napurrula's art work is undeniable. Her work follows the travels of skin groups Napurrula and Nakamarra along the Yarra dreaming track originating in her birthplace in the Yumurrpa country. As a senior Walpiri custodian, Lorna was entitled to paint specifically the bush yam, 'ngalatji' (little white flower), the bush tomato, the caterpillar, the wallaby and tucker.
Her work often described as extravagant, abstract and sensual entices you to peel back the many layers concealing a 'secret', her dreaming. The depth in Lorna's work is enhanced by the exuberant colours layered upon on another. Lorna's highly valued and admired work has been a feature of many private and public collections both domestically and internationally for some twenty years. Lorna was awarded the Gold Coast City Art Award and included in the Triennial John McCaughey Memorial Art Prize in 1998. Sadly, Lorna Fencer Napurrula passed away on the 7th December of 2006, however leaves behind a treasured art collection continuing to resonate in the Aboriginal Art Scene worldwide.