Portals of Love and Loss

Sonia Kurarra

Portals of Love and Loss Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery FREE
  • Australia
Sat 12 Feb – Sat 23 Apr at Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, FREE

Presented in association with Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery

Senior Walmajarri artist, Sonia Kurarra, has been making work prolifically since the mid-1990s and is recognised as one of WA’s most successful living artists. Portals of Love and Loss is a landmark solo exhibition of her work.

Painting the sandy billabong country along stretches of the Martuwarra (Fitzroy River), Sonia’s work reflects an intimate relationship with the river and its surrounding environment. Newly commissioned work will feature alongside key pieces that demonstrate the major themes of her practice, as well as recent experiments with leather, paper and Perspex.

Just like the floodwaters of the Martuwarra, Portals of Love and Loss traces the cyclic natural rhythms of environmental expansion and contraction. When the flood water is racing, the river is dangerous yet joyous and opulent. When the floodwaters recede, they create smaller repositories that hold a plentiful supply of parlka (barramundi), kurlumajarti (catfish) and bream. These billabongs, the remnants of the flood waters, create important microcosms of seasonal abundance; places of gathering, collecting, sharing and hunting. These transient pools are at the heart of Sonia’s work. Operating out an aged care facility in Fitzroy Crossing, the painting program is supported by Mangkaja Arts. These works are also portals to persons lost and memories of a life before the facility, a lifetime of watching the river, where the rhythms of nature are encoded across every surface.

The exhibition speaks to the significance of the Country surrounding the Fitzroy River at a time when it is increasingly threatened by external interests. It poses a question to the viewer – how would you read Sonia Kurarra’s work if billabongs ceased to exist in the Kimberley?

Emilia Galatis

Sonia Kurarra – Artist

Sonia Kurarra grew up in the river country at Yungngora (Noonkanbah). She used to help the kindergarten teacher with teaching art. They used to take the children out to the Sandy Billabong and teach them how to paint and dance and learn about the ngarrangkarni (Dreamtime) snake that lives in the billabong. His name is Nangurra.
Sonia paints the sandy billabong country along the stretch of the Fitzroy River that runs directly behind the community. After the floodwaters recede, there are billabongs that hold a plentiful supply of parlka (barramundi), kurlumajarti (catfish) and bream. She paints gapi (fish), parrmarr (rocks) where the fish is cooked, ngurti (coolamon) and a karli (boomerang).
Sonia began painting at Mangkaja Arts in the early 1990s working mostly on paper. Since 2008 she has been working predominantly on canvas, exhibiting in numerous group shows. Sonia had an overwhelming response to her first solo show in 2009 and has since established herself as one of Mangkaja Arts leading contemporary artists.


Emilia Galatis – Curator

Emilia is an independent curator, writer and arts consultant with over 13 years’ experience working across urban and remote areas. She has delivered countless projects and major exhibitions for Indigenous owned art centres and National institutions. Emilia was a Churchill fellow in 2019, developing international business opportunities for WA artists. Other projects include; All Mixed Up; John Prince Siddon solo as part of the Perth International Arts Festival, Meeting Places: Mangkaja and Creative Growth; two US shows with Fitzroy Crossing artists in California and New York City, Desert River Sea: at the Art Gallery of WA, and delivered  Revealed Emerging Aboriginal Arts Showcase in 2016 and 2017 at the Fremantle Arts Centre. Formerly the Arts and Business Manager of Warakurna Artists Aboriginal Corporation; Ngaanyatjarra Lands, W.A she also received the  Emerging Curator 2016; Department of Culture and the Arts and completed a three month placement at Creative Growth Art Centre in Oakland, California (USA).

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Time & Location

Sat 12 Feb – Sat 23 Apr

Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, 35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley / Godroo


Free Event

Gallery Opening Times

Tue – Sat 12 – 5pm

Exhibition Opening
Fri 11 Feb 6pm

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Thank You


  • Sonia Kurarra, Martuwarra, 2021, synthetic polymer paint on canvas
  • Courtesy the artist and Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency


  • Project supported by Mangkaja Arts

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