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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.

Chicka Dixon

1980
Juno Gemes

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

Charles 'Chicka' Dixon (1928–2010), Yuin Elder, Aboriginal rights activist and social pioneer, was born at Wallaga Lake, New South Wales. He became interested in Aboriginal rights after hearing Yorta Yorta activist Jack Patten speak in 1946. After becoming a stevedore on the Sydney wharves, Dixon rose to political prominence as an organiser for the Seaman's Union. In the 1960s he was spokesperson for the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and campaigned for the 1967 Referendum. Charles Perkins asked him to help mediate with courts on behalf of Aboriginal people on trial; their activities were to evolve into Redfern’s Aboriginal Legal Service in 1970. He was one of the founders of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 1972 and soon after led the Aboriginal delegation to China. A foundation member of the Australia Council’s Aboriginal Arts Board, Dixon was its Chairman from 1983 to 1986 and the first Aboriginal member of the Australia Council. A reformed alcoholic, after working with Fred Hollows and others to establish the Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service he advocated for substance abuse programs. Dixon died aged 81 from asbestosis after exposure to asbestos on the Sydney wharves.

In 1980, Juno Gemes photographed Dixon in Hyde Park watching Aboriginal bands play at the Sydney Festival.

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 36 in 1980)

Chicka Dixon (age 52 in 1980)

Subject professions

Activism

Donated by

Juno Gemes (19 portraits)

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.

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Portraits for Posterity

Previous exhibition, 2006

Drawn from some of the many donations made to the Gallery's collection, the exhibition Portraits for Posterity pays homage both to the remarkable (and varied) group of Australians who are portrayed in the portraits and the generosity of the many donors who have presented them to the Gallery.

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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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.

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