Lucy Yukenbarri, an Aboriginal artist from Balgo Hills in Western Australia was a respected senior custodian with a vast knowledge of the waterholes in the Great Sandy Desert. She began painting in 1989. Lucy’s early works followed standard Balgo Hills methods of forming lines by means of rows of dotting and of outlining icons in a similar way. A quietly creative artist, she then moved to another technique using single colour fields of dotting, later going on to a next step of painting her dots so closely together that they converged, creating dense masses of pigment on the surface of the canvas. This, together with her exploration of the visual possibilities of black icons for waterholes and soakwaters and of dark green and blue, gave her work a distinctive style, producing effects unique in desert Aboriginal art. As a result, her work became sought after in the marketplace.
Yukenbarri’s later works were boldly covered in thick paint. She concentrated on painting the soaks and rock holes of her country, also the numerous types of bush food including Kantilli (bush raisins) and Pura (bush tomato).
She laughingly described herself as a “wild one” in her youth, running away from ceremonial business into the bush. There is also the story of the long walk in from the desert to the mission when they would stop at the wells along the track to pump for water. Once at the mission, she helped make the bread and later began painting. She travelled extensively with her painting (Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Canberra, Perth, Darwin, Kununurra), however preferd to stay in Balgo with her family. Lucy Yukenbarri held many ceremonial responsibilities in the keeping of traditional law.
Subject & Themes
Goanna, bush turkey, bush fruit.
Camp sites, waterholes.
Kamitji country, rocks.
Tingari, four women, two women.
Berndt Museum of Anthropology, University of Queensland.
Campbelltown City Art Gallery.
National Gallery of Australia.
National Gallery of Victoria.
The Holmes a Court Collection.
Kluge Ruhe Collection, USA.
Parliament House Art Collection.
Alice Springs Art Foundation, Araluen Centre.
Ken Thompson and Pierre Marecaux Collection.
2003, Always Together Painting, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
1999, Tjurrnu: Living Water, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
1989, The Sixth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
1990, Warlayirti Artists, Birukmarri Gallery, Freemantle, WA.
1991, Paintings by Senior Women from the Western Desert, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria.
1993, Aboriginal Art Exhibition, Kung Gubunga,Oasis Gallery, Broadbeach,Qld; 1993, Images of Power, Aboriginal Art of the Kimberley, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
1994, Power of the Land, Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria.
The Eleventh National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
1997 – L’Art des Aborigenes d’Australie, Arts d’Australie Stephane Jacob / Galerie de Stassart, Bruxelles.
L’Art des Aborigenes d’Australie, Arts d’Australie Stephane Jacob / Espace Paul Riquet, Beziers.
1999 – Australie – Art, Arts d’Australie Stephane Jacob / J.L. Amsler – Bastille, Paris.
2002 – An Artists Survey, Balgo Hills, at Hogarth Galleries, Paddington
1999, 1999 Waringarri Arts Award, East Kimberley Art Awards, Kununurra Arts Council
2000, Highly Commended, 31st Alice Prize, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs
2001, Finnane, K, Alice Prize: ‘Immense diversity of humanity’, Alice Springs News, Vol 8, issue 40, Nov 7, Pg3
1994, Johnson, V, The Dictionary of Western Desert Artists, Craftsman House, East Roseville, NSW