Skip to main content

Timed ticketing is in place to safely manage visits to the Gallery, so please book ahead.

Menu

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.

Kath Walker, Aboriginal Poet, 1965

Clif Peir

oil on canvas (frame: 104.0 cm x 83.5 cm, support: 91.3 cm x 71.4 cm)

Kath Walker (Oodgeroo Noonuccal) (1920–1993) was an Aboriginal activist, poet and writer. Her 1964 book of verse, We Are Going, was the first to be published by an Aboriginal person. Her poems along with short stories, essays and speeches were gathered in My People: A Kath Walker Collection (1970). During the 1980s she wrote several children’s books and in the 1990s she provided stories and verse for the illustrated volumes Australian Legends and Landscapes and Australia’s Unwritten History. Through her work, which she described as ‘sloganistic, civil rightish, plain and simple’, she aimed to promote cultural pride amongst Indigenous people. She became State secretary of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in 1961, and campaigned successfully for the abolition of Section 52 of the Australian Constitution in 1967. In the 1970s she was chairperson of the National Tribal Council, the Aboriginal Arts Board, the Aboriginal Housing Committee and the Queensland Aboriginal Advancement League. In 1978–79 she toured the United States on a Fulbright scholarship, and was later awarded honorary doctorates by two Australian universities. Walker reassumed her tribal name in 1988 in protest at the Bicentennial celebrations. The same year, she returned her MBE. Clif Peir (1905–1985) was a Sydney painter and teacher, who studied at the Julian Ashton School under Ashton. He was President of the Australian Art Society in 1951, and later a member of the Royal Art Society of NSW and the St George Art Society. From 1950 onward he travelled extensively in Central Australia, and throughout the 1960s he painted views of desert landscapes and Aboriginal people. In the early 1960s he taught art at evening classes at Sutherland School, and also worked sporadically as an art critic for the Mirror newspaper group and a broadcaster for the BBC. He held many solo and group shows in Sydney from 1950 onward, though his principal employment was producing advertising material for the Sydney County Council. In 1970 Peir’s work was featured in an ‘Art Sale for Land Rights’ at Paddington Town Hall with proceeds going to the New South Wales, Kimberley and North Queensland Aboriginal Land Councils. Kath Walker stayed with the Peir family in Oatley while this portrait was being painted.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Richard Brian Close, Githabul Tribe, Woodenbong 2000
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Estate of Clif Peir

Accession number: 2000.19

Currently not on display

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

Artist and subject

Clif Peir (age 60 in 1965)

Oodgeroo Noonuccal (age 45 in 1965)

Subject professions

Activism

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

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.

Studio portrait of servicewoman Lance Corporal Kathleen Jean Mary (Kath) Walker, c.1942
Studio portrait of servicewoman Lance Corporal Kathleen Jean Mary (Kath) Walker, c.1942
Studio portrait of servicewoman Lance Corporal Kathleen Jean Mary (Kath) Walker, c.1942
Studio portrait of servicewoman Lance Corporal Kathleen Jean Mary (Kath) Walker, c.1942

Past present

Magazine article by Krysia Kitch, 2016

Krysia Kitch celebrates Oodgeroo Noonuccal.

Dame Mary Gilmore, c. 1938 Lyall Trindall
Dame Mary Gilmore, c. 1938 Lyall Trindall
Dame Mary Gilmore, c. 1938 Lyall Trindall
Dame Mary Gilmore, c. 1938 Lyall Trindall

Painting writing

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2007

Dr Sarah Engledow explores the portraits of writers held in the National Portrait Gallery's collection.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

The Gallery

Explore portraiture and come face to face with Australian identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

We would like to thank our partners.
© National Portrait Gallery 2020
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
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.