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Chicka Dixon
, 1980

by Juno Gemes

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 50.9 cm x 60.8 cm, image: 31.8 cm x 44.2 cm)

Charles 'Chicka' Dixon (1928-2010), Indigenous activist, became interested in Aboriginal causes as a seasonal worker in 1946. In 1963 he became a stevedore, and organiser for the Seaman's Union. Soon after, Charles Perkins asked him to help mediate with courts on behalf of Aboriginal people on trial; by 1970, their efforts had evolved into Redfern's Aboriginal Legal Service. Dixon was one of the founders of the Tent Embassy in 1972, and led an Aboriginal delegation to China soon after. A foundation member of the Aboriginal Arts Board of the Australia Council, he was its Chairman from 1983 to 1986. The first Aboriginal member of the Australia Council, he lobbied for reforms in indigenous arts funding and administration and actively encouraged Aboriginal musicians. After working to establish the Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service he continually advocated treatment programs for substance abuse. Dixon was named Australian Aborigine of the Year in 1984.

Juno Gemes photographed Dixon with Aboriginal bands at the Sydney Festival.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist 2004
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2004.154