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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Mario Walarmerpui, 2019

Ben Searcy

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2020 Finalist

Mario Walarmerpui is an accomplished and innovative Tiwi carver who lives in Pirlangimpi, a remote community on Melville Island in the Northern Territory. 3000 kilometres from home, Mario has been waiting in a room – abuzz with preparations and anticipation – to stage a Pukamani Ceremony for the opening of the 2019 Tarnanthi Festival in Adelaide. Visiting Melville Island a few months earlier, I had observed the enormous power and stature that performing traditional dance gave the Tiwi Islanders I met. I wanted to capture that energy in a series of behind the scenes portraits, before and after the dance.

People's Choice Award

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2020

Voting closes Sunday 26 April 2020. Terms and conditions apply.

View all the NPPP 2020 finalists

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2020

Other NPPP photos from Ben Searcy

Mr King was once on Countdown, 2010 by Ben Searcy
NPPP 2011 Finalist
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© National Portrait Gallery 2020
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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia


Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.