Born: Angus Downs in 1959
Life: lives in Alice Springs and Irrunytju
Jorna Newberry is an Australian Pitjantjatjara artist, born around 1959 at Angus Downs. Jorna divides her time between Warakurna, Irrunytju and Alice Springs (in the centre of Australia) where she has family, living between the traditional culture of her indigenous background and a contemporary one.
When visiting her lands she regularly goes bush with the women of her community for Sacred Ceremony, which is important to her as she has two daughters and wants to pass this knowledge on to them. If Jorna goes camping for several days she will hunt for kangaroo and goanna and collect bush tucker like berries, witchetty grubs and honey ants.
Jorna Newberry’s painting style is abstract and layered to ensure secrecy of important cultural matters.
working with Uncle Tommy Watson, Jorna developed her own style, Jorna Newberry began painting in mid 1990’s at Warakurna, creating work for casual collectors. Later she joined the Irrunytju arts centre and started painting for this group.
Over recent years she has worked closely alongside her legendary uncle, Tommy Watson. She follows his instruction to favour abstraction as a stylistic mode to ensure secrecy of important cultural matters, rather than taking the more figurative approach of the Papunya Tula artists. She says:‘Tommy has had a big influence on me. He teaches me to be respectful in the way I paint’.
WalpaTjukurpa (Wind Dreaming) relates to her mother’s country at Utantja, a large stretch of sacred ceremonial land that has hilly country and a large rock hole where many people come from time to time to paint up, dance and do ceremony. It is country filled with kangaroos, camels, rock wallabies and birds.
“The wind ceremony forms winds… creates air to cool the lands…” She explains that wind also helps in hunting as being down wind from animals makes it easy to hunt successfully. In painting this story Jorna uses a very vibrant palette with circles and lines to describe the movement of the wind and its eddies as its size gets bigger and bigger.
PukuraTjukurpa – Water Snake Dreaming
This is a story from Jorna’s step father. It describes a journey through lands by a father and his son (water snakes) to Pukura where they finally settle because the son is speared. The men end their travels by taking up residence in the waterhole where they live today as spirits of the water snake. Jorna sometimes goes to Pukura with her children. Its waters act as a healing agent when consumed.
KungkarangkalpaTjukurrpa – Seven Sisters Dreaming
This describes the pursuit of the seven sisters by a man who wanted all of them as wives. It ends near Docker River where he eventually pushes them into the river and follows them in. As water spirits they become his wives and live there now. They also exist as a star constellation commonly known as the Pleiades.