We at Perth Festival are deeply saddened by the loss of the great Ningali Lawford-Wolf, a much-loved member of our Festival family.

Ningali, a Wangkatjunka women from the East Kimberley, was an extraordinary stage artist and a generous mentor to the many people she inspired with her talent, wisdom, humour and grace.

We remember and honour her as a courageous and charismatic person whose artistry built a bridge between indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to enhance greater understanding across cultures.

Her first Perth Festival appearance in the 1990 world-premiere of the ground-breaking Indigenous musical Bran Nue Dae paved the way for an illustrious acting career on stage and screen. Her other Festival appearances included One Day in '67 with Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company in 2002 and Jandamarra in 2008 with Black Swan State Theatre Company.

Perth Festival Artistic Director Iain Grandage said:

“It is a tragedy that Australia has lost an artist of such standing so young. The creative culture of Australia is much diminished by her passing.”

“Her infectious playful humour, her immense heart and her ability to include anybody and everybody in a rehearsal room or social situation was legendary. She had a charisma that can never be taught.

“Those of us lucky enough to know her saw her wisdom, grace and an endless playfulness. These qualities not only made her a great stage actor but a glorious friend to many.”

All of us at Perth Festival offer our condolences to Ningali’s family and friends.

Photo: Ningali Lawford-Wolf in The Secret River (2019). Photo by Ryan Buchanan. Used with permission from Ningali Lawford-Wolf's family.