Jacob Stengle’s (Karumapuli) life is just one of many extraordinary stories of hardship and suffering that Indigenous aka Original children endured. And yet what is even more extraordinary, is Jacob’s ability to convey some of these memories, with such humour and joy. These memories include such atrocities as Maralinga (Black Mist Burnt), which for many of us have been within our life time and in our own back yard!
Jacob was born in Renmark in 1954 to a Ngurrindjeri mother and Czech-slovanian father.
My mother’s country was the Coorong, made famous in the film ‘Storm Boy’. My father was from Prague. My mother died when I was 3 years old, and I was placed in Colebrook home for indigenous children at Eden Hills, 20 minutes from Adelaide. Many of my paintings depict happy times in the home, where we were always using crayons and pencils etc.
Jacob is an Indigenous Artist from the “Old School” who instead of collecting diplomas prefers the practical ‘Master Class’ of bursts of colour splashed, scratched and clawed onto the creaking canvas. He follows this primal approach with quiet meticulous finishing brush strokes all to the resonating symphony of Vivaldi. He portrays in his images the two worlds from which he comes.
Many years were spent searching for his heritage, his place in the outside world, trying feverishly to find his way in life and where he belonged.
Jacob (Karumapuli) always practiced art from a very early age, as one of the superintendents at the home was a practicing oil painter. They would come to spend many hours together with a young Jacob watching with eager eye as what was once a blank canvas be transformed to life before his very eyes.
In later life Jacob attended Art School, as well as worked with other professional artists. Over the last 45 years Jacob has experimented with many art mediums. He uses mostly Polymer Acrylic, but is also proficient in watercolour, pastel, ink and pencil.
Sadly, Jacob Stengle passed away peacefully in his sleep on Friday 12th August 2022, he was just 67 years of age. I feel very sad when I think about and our last conversation, at the time (just a few weeks earlier) it never crossed my mind we would not speak again, and we were both excited for a planned exhibition in 2023. I have yet to meet his family, and hope when I do we can still arrange a tribute exhibition. RIP Jacob.