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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 Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Wenten Rubuntja

2001
Greg Weight

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 40.4 cm x 50.4 cm, image: 29.6 cm x 43.8 cm)

Wenten Rubuntja AM (1923–2005), an Arrernte law man, worked across a variety of pastoral jobs and was renowned as a sharp-dressing, daring cowboy and jockey at the Hermannsburg Races before he began painting and became involved in advocacy. Summarising the trajectory of his life, he said that when he saw the great artist Albert Namatjira at work, 'Me been forget about stock work – I been sit down with the painting now, till I get to now. For reconciliation and all the organisations, Land Council, Congress, Legal Aid and all that one.' In 1975, Charles Perkins and Rubuntja became chair and deputy chair respectively of the new Central Aboriginal Land Council. Rubuntja was its subsequent chair, and in 1988 he and Galarrwuy Yunupingu presented Prime Minister Bob Hawke with the Barunga Statement, calling for a treaty. His paintings – in both 'Namatjira style' and Papunya dot style, depending on their themes – are held in the National Gallery of Australia, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and many other collections.

Rubuntja's life story is told in the strikingly original co-written autobiographical history The Town Grew Up Dancing: The Life and Art of Wenten Rubuntja (2002). Photographer Greg Weight travelled with Rubuntja to take a series of images for the book. This photograph was taken at Akepelye (Jessie Gap), a significant ancestral site associated with the Caterpillar Dreaming.

Gift of Patrick Corrigan AM 2004. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
© Gregory Weight/Copyright Agency, 2022

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

Greg Weight (age 55 in 2001)

Wenten Rubuntja AM (age 78 in 2001)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

Patrick Corrigan AM (123 portraits)

© National Portrait Gallery 2022
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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