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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.

Deborah Mailman, 1999

Evert Ploeg

oil on jute (frame: 178.0 cm x 148.0 cm, support: 167.0 cm x 137.0 cm)

Deborah Mailman AM (b. 1972), actor, was in her early twenties when she co–devised and appeared in the one-woman stage show Seven Stages of Grieving, which was later staged in London. In 1998, for her performance in the film Radiance, she became the first Aboriginal woman to win the Best Actress Award at the Australian Film Industry (AFI) Awards; five years later she was named the NAIDOC Person of the Year. In 2012, when the AFI awards had become the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, she won Best Lead Actress for her role in The Sapphires (2011). Her other films include Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002), The Book of Revelation (2006), Lucky Miles (2007) and Bran Nue Day (2009). On stage she has appeared in diverse productions including Shakespeare plays and the hit Small Poppies (2001); she was named a member of the Sydney Theatre Company’s inaugural Actors’ Company in 2005. She earned great popularity as a presenter on Playschool from 1998 to 2001; her subsequent television credits include The Secret Life of Us; Going Bush; Offspring and Redfern Now. For Mabo (2012) and Redfern Now: Promise Me (2015), she won 'Most Outstanding Actress' at the Logies of 2013 and 2016. In 2019 she was appointed to the board of Screen Australia.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2000

Accession number: 2000.4

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Evert Ploeg (age 36 in 1999)

Deborah Mailman (age 27 in 1999)

Subject professions

Performing arts

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.

Interview with Evert Ploeg video: 2 minutes
Interview with Evert Ploeg video: 2 minutes
Interview with Evert Ploeg video: 2 minutes
Interview with Evert Ploeg video: 2 minutes

Deborah Mailman by Evert Ploeg

Portrait story

An interview with artist Evert Ploeg about his portrait of the Australian actor Deborah Mailman.

Deborah Mailman, 1999 Evert Ploeg
Deborah Mailman, 1999 Evert Ploeg
Deborah Mailman, 1999 Evert Ploeg
Deborah Mailman, 1999 Evert Ploeg

The Secret Life of Deb

Magazine article by Michelle Fracaro, 2003

Australian actress Deborah Mailman is the subject of a unique portrait by Evert Ploeg.

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The National Portrait Gallery
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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.