Jacob Stengle


Jacob Stengle
Karumapuli Exhibition
29 May – 18 July 2015
Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute (NACI)

For Immediate Release

The forthcoming exhibition at Tandanya NACI titled ‘Karumapuli’ is the Ngarrindjeri word for Boobook Owl, the totem of Jacob’s maternal grandfather Milerum (Clarence Long). This varied exhibition of new works draws form personal and cultural identity, Stolen Generations and explorations into European visual art appreciation, showcasing large-scale paintings, drawings and exquisite silk objects adorning quality authorised reproductions of the artist’s iconic work.

Karumapuli will also provide collectors and buyers with an exclusive opportunity to purchase the first works carrying this new signature.

While Jacob Stengle is well-known for his depictions of Ngarrindjeri dreaming stories, his works also reflect his personal experiences and history.  New directions in Jacob’s life have lead him to new worlds of subject matter, and his passion for, and love of the art is always clear in every work he produces.

In his own words, “A gift was given at birth which cannot be taken away, fresh ideas and images flood over me just like they did forty-seven years ago, and I eagerly put paint to canvas.”

Born in Renmark, South Australia in 1954, Jacob’s mother was a Ngarrindjeri woman from Raukkan (Point McLeay) and his father from Prague, Czechoslovakia. When Jacob was three his mother died and he was subsequently placed in Colebrook Children’s Home in the Adelaide Hills, thus becoming one of the members of the Stolen Generations.

From an early age Jacob showed a real talent for visual art and immersed himself in this as a means of escaping the harsh realities of life in Colebrook. After being kicked out of the children’s home at the age of 15 for not attending church, Jacob began a long period of homelessness that left him drifting and travelling attempting to find his roots.

“Those important years of growing up in the Home left me with long-lasting memories and impressions, that still impact on my life and outlook today’” he recalls. “I would never like to see or have a child grown up in those circumstances and suffer like I did”.

To support himself during these hard times Jacob painted and sold his works and by his mid-twenties he was able to paint almost full time. Where ever he travelled he immersed himself in art circles across Australia with established and up and coming artists.

This year, as a part of Jacob’s journey of reconnection with his Ngarrindjeri culture, Jacob commenced signing his works ‘Karumapuli’ rather than Jacob Stengle.  The cultural and personal significance of this decision should never be underrated.  For a member of the Stolen Generation to make this kind of association is deep and meaningful. Although as a young child he was forcefully removed from his culture and family, this action confirms his connection to country, culture and language has inexplicably survived.

Today his artistic achievements are numerous including prestigious accolades for the Heritage Awards in Canberra; the Northern Territory Art Exhibition and the Museum of Art Awards. Currently Jacob’s work is represented in the South Australian Museum collections, the Flinders University Art Museum and Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, as well as in many private collections around the world.


Selected Solo Exhibitions

2015 Kuramapuli, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide

2014 New works on paper, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide

1985 Hilton International, Adelaide, South Australia

1990 Jacob Stengle, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide

Selected Group Exhibitions

2014 Tandanya 25th Anniversary Exhibition, Adelaide Domestic and International Airport

2014 Men’s Work, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide

2009 Making Tracks: a Glimpse at Two Decades of Aboriginal Art in South Australia, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide

1980 Dreamings Exhibition, Multiple Cities in USA


Roberts, Eric (1990) ‘Jacob Stengle’ – catalogue essay, Tandanya

Nicholls, Christine (2009) ‘Making Tracks’ – catalogue essay, Tandanya

Selected Collections

Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute           Holmes a Court

National Gallery of Australia                                        Flinders University

For all media enquiries please contact Sarah Easson

on Mobile: 0419 228 642 or Email:

Project Details

  • Jacob Stengle Press Release

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