At the heart of Lorna’s identity are the Jukurrpa that she owned and painted. As an inheritance from her father, Kuurrpa Jakamarra, she had proprietary rights as kirda for three closely interconnected Yam or Yam related Dreamings.
In Lorna’s culture, the story about the Big Yam and the Small Yam, the Yarla and the Wapirti, is consciously written into a significant ancestral story that talks about the importance of sustainability and harmony. In the Ancestor story, two brothers owned the different ancestral rights for the Big Yam and the Small Yam. As they moved from their different Creation sites towards each other, a huge battle erupted between their followers, so there was a great deal of death and destruction.
The story is played out by Warlpiri people and it sits in their culture as a reminder of the importance of the yam resource to Aboriginal people. It remains a resource that needs to be equitably managed and shared in order to maintain social cohesion. These stories are embedded in ceremony and song. Lorna Fencer was one of the most significant painters of the Yam Dreaming and significant custodial elder for this story as well as a magnificent painter.
Acknowledgement: In preparing this text reference has been made to “Yulyurlu Lorna Fencer Napurrurla”, ed. Margie West, Wakefield Press, 2011, copies of which are available at the gallery.