back to the list of artists

Lorna Fencer Napurrula

Born: ca 1920 deceased 2006

Area: Lajamanu

Language Group: Warlpiri

Lorna was a Senior Warlpiri Custodian, and has been painting since 1986. She was born about 1920 at Yartula Yartula. Nearby is land inherited by Lorna, Yumurrpa located south of the Granites Mine Area in the Tanami Desert, Northern Territory. Lorna is among a small group of women who collectively produced the first paintings at Lajamanu.

Lorna was among the many Warlpiri people forcibly relocated to Lajamanu along Hookers Creek, where a government settlement had been established. This country is the traditional land of the Gurindji Aboriginal people. Despite relocation, Lorna retained her cultural identity through ceremony, story telling and painting her art.

Lorna’s work depicts the bush foods of her country originating from Dreaming stories taught to her involving the travels of the Napurrula and Nakamarra skin(or kinship) and some Dreamings from her father’s country of Wapuurtarli. Her main Dreamings are about the gathering and growth of bush foods such as the Yarla (Yam), Wapirti and Marlujarra. These Dreamings entitle her to paint subjects such as the bush yam (sweet potato), “ngalatji” (little white flower), bush tomato, berry, caterpillar (luju), wallaby, onion, water and particular mens stories including boomerangs.  

The Yarla is an important Dreaming for the Warlpiri women, and a staple food source in the Western Desert. Here Lorna renders it in her distinctive expressive style. Along with visually describing the Yarla, some paintings contain information about when to gather this food source and how to find it.

The use of vibrant colours and layering creates an exuberance and depth to her work, not often seen in painting of this region, more typically known for its dot work.



1997 Gold Coast City Art Award, Queensland.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

1999 St Valentine’s Exhibition, Brisbane

1999 „Tracks Across the Landscape“, Land Rover Showroom, Sydney

1998 „Yapa“, Melbourne

1997 „Me Warlpiri“, Melbourne


Selected Group Exhibitions:

2003 Yumarlpa Stories Original & Authentic Aboriginal Art Gallery, Melbourne

2001 A Tribute to Lorna Napurrula Fencer, Original &Authentic Aboriginal Art Gallery,Melbourne..

1999 United Nations Building, New York, USA

1998 6th Australian Contemporary Art Fair, Exhibition Building, Melbourne

1998 John McCaughey Memorial Art Prize, NGV, Melbourne

1997 Women’s Body Paintings from Lajamanu, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

1997 Recent Acquisitions, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

1996 All About Art, Melbourne

1996 Rainbow Serpent, Vaucluse, NSW

1994 Yapakurlangu Wirrkardu, NT

1991 Aboriginal Art and Spirituality, High Court of Australia

1991Aboriginal Art, Australian Embassy, Washington, USA

1991 Paint up Big Warlpiri Women’s Art from Lajamanu, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

1988People, Place and Art, Hilton International Hotel, Adelaide, SA.



 The Holmes à Court Collection, Perth, Western Australia

 Christensen Collection (housed at Museum of Victoria)

 Museum & Art Galleries of the N.T, Darwin

 National Gallery of Victoria

 Perth Museum

Australian Heritage Commission, Canberra

Artbank, Sydney

Laverty Collection, Sydney

Margaret Carnegie Collection