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Language: Pitjantjatjara

Community: Warakurna WA

Jorna Newberry is a Pitjantjatjara artist who was born around 1959 at Angus Downs. She currently splits her time between living a traditional Indigenous life in Warakurna WA and a modern life with her family in Alice Springs.


The late, great Tommy Watson was Jorna’s uncle and has been a tremendous influence on her work. Tommy taught her to paint in a multi-layered abstract way, so as to maintain the secrecy of important cultural matters.


Jorna initially started to paint in the mid 1990’s at Warakurna. Her paintings refer to her country of Irrunytju in the Western Desert and are associated with significant traditional places of spiritual knowledge and ancestral stories, which are imbedded in the land.


One of the most visited themes in her work is the portrayal of Walpa Tjukurpa - the wind dreaming. This is a story of Jorna’s mother’s country at Utantja, a large stretch of sacred ceremonial land that has hilly country and a large rock hole. Many people came here from time to time to paint up, dance and perform ceremony. It is country filled with kangaroos, camels, rock wallabies and birds. 


“The wind ceremony forms winds… creates air to cool the lands…”  Jorna explains that wind also helps in hunting as being downwind from animals makes it easy to hunt successfully. In painting this story Jorna creates great movement and depth, with repetitive circular patterning, and intricate dotting.  The very surface of these works suggest the movement of wind across the desert sands, which creates eddies and ever changing surface patterns.


Commissioned to paint for the exclusive Yanda Aboriginal Art, considered one of the leading independent provenances for Indigenous art, Jorna developed her most recent style.  Subtle, colour palette of whites, creams and neutrals on black ground create a sophisticated, contemporary aesthetic.


Jorna’s artwork is included in the Zug Museum Collection, Switzerland and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts  Belgium, the Bond University Collection QLD, alongside leading Australian collections.

2021- Metro Galleries Melbourne- Solo- sell out exhibition

2016-2021 represented by Brenda Colahan Fine Art, Putney

2019 International Women's Day, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2018 Brenda Colahan Fine Art 20/20 20 years 20 women

2017 Coo-ee gallery, Sydney
2012 Japingka Gallery
2008 Harrison Galleries 
2005 Art Place

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