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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.

Jimmy Little, Dubbo Reconciliation Group Event, 2000

Mervyn Bishop

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 50.8 cm x 30.4 cm, image: 38.7 cm x 26.0 cm)

Jimmy Little AO (1937-2012), singer, made his recording debut in 1956. Australia’s first indigenous pop star, Little was one of a handful of well-known Aboriginal people by the late 1950s. After a national number one hit, ‘Royal Telephone’, he was named Pop Star of the Year in 1964. Over the 1970s, by which time he had gained the nickname ‘Gentleman Jim’, Little’s popularity lapsed, and he went on the club circuit. In a characteristically low-key resurgence, he won the Mo award in 1997 and in 1999 his album Messenger - featuring covers of songs by The Cruel Sea, Nick Cave, Paul Kelly and The Church - won an ARIA Award for Best Adult Contemporary Album. He was named Best Male Artist at the Deadly Awards the same year. At 64 he released his 29th album, Resonate (2001), which featured songs by artists such as Kelly, Bernard Fanning and Dave Graney. Named a Living National Treasure, Little received two honorary doctorates and won the Classic Rock Performer Mo Award following the release of his 34th album, Life’s what you make it, in 2004.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2001
© Mervyn Bishop

Accession number: 2001.177

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Mervyn Bishop (age 55 in 2000)

Jimmy Little AO (age 63 in 2000)

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.

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.