Loren Pennington was born at Wayarra near the border of Western Australia and South Australia and is a Spinifex elder. He grew up in this country, living around the edges of the lake and drinking from the soaks. Loren, who is married to Myrtle Pennington, describes himself as a Spinifex person and his language as Pitjantjatjara. Like other Spinifex people Loren’s life was traumatised by Maralinga atomic tests and disrupted by European contact. He and his brother Lawrence Pennington were given their virtually indistinguishable names by Europeans. He was one of the Wangkayi who worked with anthropologist Brian Hayden at Cundulee. At that stage Hayden considered them to be the only people in southern Australia who ‘remembered traditional lithic technology’. Hayden provided a ‘mud map’ of waterholes in Spinifex homelands and recorded that the site of Anpirri is in country belonging to Loren Pennington.
Myrtle Pennington was born and grew up at Karnpa near the WA/SA border. Myrtle travelled constantly as a young girl looking for all her other relatives. She walked in from the desert with her husband and son to Cundeelee mission in the 1950s to escape a long period of drought as well as British nuclear testing at Maralinga. There she met her second husband Loren Pennington with whom she sometimes works collaboratively. Myrtle became involved with the Spinifex Arts Project for the first time in July 2001 when she went on the field trip to Ilkurlka. Her work was exhibited and published in Colour Power: Aboriginal Art Post 1984 at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia in 2004–05.
The Spinifex people returned to their homelands in the 1980s. In doing so they found the southern part of their country converted into nature reserve; the northern third leased to Aboriginal people living to the north and the centre Vacant Crown Land. The Spinifex People were upset and, spurred on by the Mabo judgment of 1992, mounted a Native Title claim over 55,000 km of land. As part of the broader Native Title process, the Spinifex Arts Project was established in 1996 to record and document ownership of the Spinifex Area. Initially focused on Native Title documentation, the painting project grew rapidly and in 1998 the community produced a series of ten large paintings to be bequeathed to the people of Western Australia in a symbolic exchange of paintings for land. Loren Pennington became involved with the Spinifex Arts Project for the first time in July 2001 when he went on the field trip to Ilkurlka. His work was included in Colour Power: Aboriginal Art Post 1984 at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia in 2004–05.