Guided by the 2019 NAIDOC week theme, Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together for a shared future, students and teachers will learn about the achievements, resistance and continued contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander subjects from the National Portrait Gallery’s collection. This resource encourages reflection, discussion and creativity to explore our shared history and projected futures, with a focus on First Nations stories and experiences.
The double self
Jessica Mauboy is a KuKu Yalanji woman. She is a singer, songwriter performer and role model for young people.
How many Jessicas do we see in this photographic portrait?
Why do you think the photographer, David Rosetzky, created more than one depiction of Jessica Mauboy in this portrait?
The portrait process has been different, I guess, working with David on, just having a bit of a play, having a bit of movement, really creating those layers of personality, and that's what we're channelling in the studio, is being strong, being loving to yourself and kind, but also being wild. I think, there's nothing like just being yourself and finding those little things that either make you tick or challenge you or make you feel so alive, is what we're creating in this portrait.
Jessica Mauboy shares with us multiple sides of herself – of her identity.
What makes you ‘tick’?
Make a list of some of the things you like to spend time doing, what challenges you and any issues you feel strongly about.
Here we see another artwork featuring two of the same subject in a single portrait.
Adam Goodes is an Adnyamathanha and Narungga man. He is a former Australian Football League player for the Sydney Swans.
Adam Goodes speaks strong against racism and continues to advocate for young people with a focus on education, employment and health.
What do we notice about the two depictions of Adam Goodes in this portrait?
Observe the clothing...
...painting technique and colour palette.
Refer to your list of ideas exploring your identity.
Thinking about clothing, facial expressions and technique draw a self portrait that represents two different sides of yourself.
Share the portraits with a fellow student to see what they notice.
Across our lands, countries and nations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have cared for place as custodians, with key responsibilities and connections.
In small groups discuss the meaning of the word ‘custodianship’, making a word cloud to explore possible definitions in your own words.
Repeat this task for the word ‘ownership’. Share your findings with the rest of your class.
What similarities or differences did you discover?
Vincent Lingiari, a Gurindji and Malgin man led his people off the Wave Hill cattle station in the Northern Territory in protest for equal rights, better conditions of work, and as a declaration of their custodianship of land.
Vincent Lingiari and the hundreds of cattle workers and their families settled at Daguragu, a significant site at Watti Creek.
Eight years after this act of protest the title for the land was given back to the Gurindj peoples.
This moment was captured through an iconic moment captured in this photographic portrait in 1975.
Discuss or write down three things you notice about this portrait of Vincent Lingiari and Gough Whitlam.
In 2016 David Frank, an artist living on the Iwantja community on Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands referenced the same event in his painting titled, 'Our Future'.
Spend five minutes looking at these two artworks of the same event.
Make a list or discuss in small groups the changes David Frank has made in his painting.
Why do you think he made these choices and what impact does it have on you?
Neville Bonner, a Jagera man was the first Aboriginal Australian to become a member of the Parliament of Australia. This political leadership was a significant first step towards more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in Australia.
How do you imagine Neville Bonner might have felt to have been the first Aboriginal member of the Parliament of Australia?
Here is another portrait of Neville Bonner by Dunghutti-Ngaku man Robert Campbell Jnr.
The Aboriginal flag is shown hovering above his head. The Aboriginal flag was designed by Harold Thomas. It was first flown on National Aborigines Day in Adelaide in 1971, the same year that Neville Bonner became Australia’s first Indigenous parliamentarian. The Aboriginal flag was officially recognised under federal legislation in 1995.
The colours red, yellow and black are repeated throughout the portrait.
The artist recognises Bonner’s connection with the federal government by including his own interpretation of the Australian coat of arms. The emblematic emu and kangaroo flank the Aboriginal flag that, in this version, has replaced the national shield.
Bonner’s pose is directed towards us, but his attention is focused elsewhere. Beneath his moustache, his open mouth suggests he still has much to say.
Observing multiple portraits of the same person builds a rich story of who they are, as well as the achievements they have made over a lifetime.
This bark painting was made by Neville Bonner's nephew Bill Congoo and depicts the story of his life.
This section shows Bonners’s birthplace at Ukerebagh Island, Tweed Heads, NSW. Baby Neville is sitting on his father’s lap, near a humpy.
My mother was not allowed to go to hospital to give birth to me, she gave birth to me in a little gunya under the palm tree, that still lives down there, on a government issued blanket. Those are the kind of things that we had to cope with when I was born and when I was a small child, right up into my teenage years and into my manhood.
Shown here is when Bonner lived on Palm Island with his wife Mona and five sons, and hunted dugongs and turtles.
Bonner and his father-in-law made the boat he is shown fishing in.
This section shows life on Palm Island where Bonner and his wife Mona raised five children.
This part tells us of Bonners’s move to Ipswich where he began to mix more with Europeans and became involved in politics.
Linking all the parts of the painting are footsteps which trace a journey through Neville’s life. Over time, as his life and career changed, and he intermingled more with European Australians, his dark footprints became intertwined with white footprints.
Here is Bonner as a Senator, he is depicted sitting in a circle with three other politicians.
For the first time in the history of this country there was an Aboriginal voice in the parliament and that gave me an enormous feeling of overwhelming responsibility. I made people aware, the lawmakers in this country, I made them aware of Indigenous people. I think that was an achievement.
Look more closely at the three different portraits of Neville Bonner.
Discuss in groups the similarities and differences and why the artists may have taken such different approaches.
Charles Perkins, an Arrente Kalkadoon man and Garry Williams, a Gumbaynggirr man, were the first Aboriginal people to attend the University of Sydney.
In 1965 Charles Perkins was a leader in the freedom rides, a bus set to visit NSW communities to uncover discrimination.
Segregation is an example of discrimination that the Freedom Riders set out to change. On Kamilaroi country, in Moree the public swimming pool was banned for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Charlie Perkins protested at the pool by swimming along with local children. The event attracted media attention and debate. In Moree a public meeting followed the protest, which eventuated in a vote to desegregate the pool.
We see Charlie Perkins looking out the window of a bus.
How would you describe his facial expression?
Consider some of the injustices or current events you disagree with in the world.
How could you protest these issues in powerful or unique ways to draw attention to them?
This exhibit was written by April Phillips, (Wiradjuri), National Portrait Gallery Art Educator in Residence.
This exhibit was edited and produced by Alana Sivell, Digital Learning Coordinator, National Portrait Gallery.
Thank you to all artists and organisations for permitting us to include these works.