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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.

Wandjuk Marika

1979
Juno Gemes

gelatin silver photograph, selenium toned on paper (sheet: 51.0 cm x 60.8 cm, image: 31.8 cm x 44.0 cm)

Wandjuk Marika OBE (1927–1987), artist and activist, was a Rirrratjingu (Yolgnu) Elder, and a member of the Marika family of artists from the Gove Peninsula, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. He began painting on bark as a teenager, taught by his father Mawalan Marika, and developed a distinctive clan style of representing myth episodes in large bark paintings. He contributed to the painting of the Yirrkala Church panels and the Bark Petition presented to the Australian Government in 1963 to protest against the decision to grant mining leases on the Gove Peninsula. A founding member of the Australia Council, Marika was chair of the Aboriginal Arts Board from 1975 to 1980. An advocate for Indigenous artists' rights, he began a campaign to secure copyright for Aboriginal artists, which led to the formation of the Aboriginal Artists Agency.

Photographer and social justice activist Juno Gemes has spent much of her career documenting the lives and struggles of Aboriginal people, and their participation in significant political and cultural developments in Australian history. This image of Marika playing his yidaki (didgeridoo) was taken in Paddington, Sydney, in 1979 when he was chairman of the Aboriginal Arts Board.

Purchased 2004
© Juno Gemes/Copyright Agency, 2021

Artist and subject

Juno Gemes (age 35 in 1979)

Wandjuk Marika OBE (age 52 in 1979)

Subject professions

Activism

Visual arts and crafts

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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency