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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.

Al Grassby and Penny Dent, Community Relations Commission, Canberra, 1982

John Williams

montage of gelatin silver photographs

The Hon. Al Grassby AM (1926-2005), politician, was a journalist before he became the Labor Member for Murrumbidgee in 1965. As Minister for Immigration in the Whitlam government from 1972 to 1974 and then the first Australian Commissioner for Community Relations, Grassby became well known for his flamboyant dress sense and gregarious, idealistic nature. A lifelong advocate for multiculturalism, he remained emblematic of those years in which immigration increased by nearly 50%; Vietnamese refugees and orphans from other countries were welcomed; opportunities for overseas students were broadened; exploitation of migrant workers was addressed; educational and resettling programmes were expanded; and non-English language programming on radio and television was initiated.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 1999

Accession number: 1999.37

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

John Williams (age 49 in 1982)

Al Grassby AM (age 56 in 1982)

Subject professions

Government and leadership

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

In the mirror: self portrait with Joy Hester, 1939 Albert Tucker
In the mirror: self portrait with Joy Hester, 1939 Albert Tucker
In the mirror: self portrait with Joy Hester, 1939 Albert Tucker
In the mirror: self portrait with Joy Hester, 1939 Albert Tucker

Depth of Field

Portrait Photography from the Collection

Previous exhibition, 2004

Over the last five years the National Portrait Gallery has developed a collection of portrait photographs that reflects both the strength and diversity of Australian achievement as well as the talents of our photographers.

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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.