TRIBUTES have been paid to the indigenous Australian actress Ningali Lawford-Wolf who has died while touring in Scotland.

Ms Lawford-Wolf, star of Sydney Theatre Company’s (STC) The Secret River, had been hospitalised during the weekend forcing the cancellation of two performances at the Edinburgh Festival.

The 52-year-old's family and STC issued a statement saying that the actress had passed away on Sunday.
“Ningali was an incredibly talented performer as well as a wonderfully caring and thoughtful person. We’ve lost one of Australian theatre’s greatest treasures,” the statement said.

READ MORE: Festival Theatre - The Secret River, King’s Theatre, Four stars

It added: "Ningali’s family, as well as the cast and crew of The Secret River, are understandably very distressed by this news.

"All of us at STC offer our condolences to Ningali’s family and friends, and ask that their privacy is respected at this time."

A Wangkatjungka woman from the Kimberley in Western Australia who was born under a tree at Christmas Creek Station, Lawford-Wolf began her performance career as a dancer with Sydney’s Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre, before moving on to work with Bangarra Dance Theatre.

She developed a significant film career, and was known for her work in Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002), Bran Nue Dae (2009) and the television miniseries Mystery Road (2018).

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In 2015 she was nominated for the best actress AACTA award for her performance alongside Michael Caton in the film Last Cab to Darwin.

She was also a highly regarded stage performer. Her 1994 one-woman show Ningali, which played at the Edinburgh Fringe in the mid-1990s, won her a Green Room award for best actress, and she had also appeared in shows by Sydney’s Belvoir St Theatre company and Perth’s Black Swan State Theatre Company.

Lawford-Wolf was involved in the development of STC’s 2013 acclaimed production of The Secret River, Andrew Bovell’s stage adaptation of Kate Grenville’s novel of the Australian frontier wars, directed by Neil Armfield. She went on to narrate the 2016 return season of the show, performing at its 2017 Adelaide festival season as well as in Edinburgh this year.

READ MORE: Festival reviews, The Secret River (King’s)

Mr Armfield responded to news of Lawford-Wolf’s death with the statement: “She was the best.”

She also performed in STC’s production of Howard Lawrence Sumner’s The Long-Forgotten Dream last year.
Ms Lawford-Wolf is survived by her children Jaden, Rosie, Alexander, William and Florence, and her grandchildren Zavia and Mia.