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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.

Dr Roberta Sykes and Naomi

1994
Juno Gemes

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 60.8 cm x 51.0 cm, image: 44.1 cm x 31.8 cm)

Roberta Sykes (1943–2010), writer and activist, became involved in Aboriginal affairs in the early 1970s. After completing her PhD at Harvard, she became the first secretary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 1972, and subsequently worked as a health educator and columnist, Chair of the ABC's Promotional Appeals Tribunal, and consultant to government agencies, including those involved in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The founder of the Black Women's Action in Education Foundation, Sykes published nine books, including the three-volume autobiography, collectively titled Snake Dreaming (1997–1999), which won many awards including the Age Book of the Year and the National Biography Award. Sykes won the Australian Human Rights Medal in 1994.

A book about Australian women was published following the establishment of the Office for Women’s Affairs by the Whitlam government in 1973. Described as a ‘collective portrait’, it featured interviews by writer and artist Virginia Fraser, along with photographs by Carol Jerrems of women from various walks of life.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2004
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Juno Gemes/Copyright Agency, 2021

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Juno Gemes (age 50 in 1994)

Roberta Sykes (age 51 in 1994)

Subject professions

Activism

Education and research

Donated by

Juno Gemes (19 portraits)

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.

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© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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Phone +61 2 6102 7000
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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency