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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.

Justine Saunders

1994 (printed 2003)
Juno Gemes

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 60.8 cm x 51.0 cm, image: 44.2 cm x 29.0 cm)

Justine Saunders (1953–2007), actress and woman of the Woppaburra people from the Kanomie clan of Keppel Island, amassed a solid body of work in film, television and theatre. She appeared in such classic Australian television series as Against the Wind, Number 96, Prisoner, The Flying Doctors, and Heartland, while her film credits include The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), The Fringe Dwellers (1985), and Until the End of the World (1991). Saunders' extensive theatre experience included roles in The Crucible (Sydney Theatre Company) and Marginal Farm (Melbourne Theatre Company). In 1985 she was named NAIDOC's Artist of the Year; in 1987 she co-directed the first National Black Playwrights' Conference; and in 1999 she was the recipient of the Australia Council's Red Ochre Award, awarded annually to an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person for outstanding lifetime achievement in the arts. In 1991 Saunders was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her services to the performing arts and to the National Aboriginal Theatre, along with her foundational roles in establishing the Aboriginal-run Black Theatre and the Aboriginal National Theatre Trust.  She later returned the medal via Senator Aden Ridgeway in response to the Federal Government's denial of the term 'stolen generation' coupled with the distress it caused her mother.  At the 2002 Tudawali Awards, which recognise the work of Indigenous artists in film, television and video, she received the Lifetime Achievement award. Saunders passed away in Sydney in 2007 at the age of 54.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2005
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Juno Gemes/Copyright Agency, 2021

Artist and subject

Juno Gemes (age 50 in 1994)

Justine Saunders (age 41 in 1994)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Donated by

Juno Gemes (19 portraits)

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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