Indigenous artist Lorraine Connelly-Northey tells the stories of her people through works created from discarded objects.

Story Sue Wallace   Photo Jules Boag 

On a sunny afternoon in late spring, Lorraine Connelly-Northey sits on her wide wooden verandah creating tiny bush bags – narrbong-galang – with remnants from a rusted “rabbit-proof fence” she collected recently. Lorraine works quickly, looking up every time a blue wren sips from the terracotta bowls on steps fashioned from weathered sleepers. She is surrounded by tubs of treasures – found objects including rusty barbed wire, bedsprings, tins, mesh and netting that end up in large installations that grace the walls of Australia’s best-known galleries. 

Her work has been widely exhibited, including in Japan and Moscow, and is collected both nationally and internationally. Lorraine creates most of her pieces at the back of her home on Waradgerie (Wiradjuri) country near Albury, NSW, where she feels grounded and connected. “I am almost 60 and I am still as busy as ever, working towards exhibitions as I have done for the past 20 years,” she says. “I see it as a chance to educate and share my knowledge of Aboriginal Australia. When you see your work evolve from found bits collected from an old abandoned rubbish dump, then created on country in the dirt and ending up on a white wall in a gallery with lights centred on them, it’s the moment when it all comes together and I’m proud of my efforts and hard work to get my message out to the wider community on behalf of Waradgerie people.” 

This story excerpt is from Issue #140

Outback Magazine: December/January 2022