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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.

David Gulpilil

c. 1981
Juno Gemes

inkjet print on paper (sheet: 50.5 cm x 61.0 cm, image: 33.4 cm x 50.8 cm)

David Gulpilil AM (1953-2021), actor and dancer, was a Yolngu man of the Mandhalpuyngu language group and was born near Maningrida in Arnhem Land. Having been raised in the bush and educated in the customs of his people, Gulpilil was sixteen when British film director, Nicholas Roeg, saw him performing a traditional dance and cast him in the film, Walkabout, released in 1971. His career as an actor has since spanned five decades and encompasses several groundbreaking and iconic films, including Storm Boy (1976), The Last Wave (1977), Crocodile Dundee (1986) and Rabbit Proof Fence (2002). Some years ago, Gulpilil returned to his ancestral lands to subsist through crocodile hunting and fishing. He explored the contradictions and difficulties of straddling Yolngu and balanda (European) cultures in his smash one-man stage show Gulpilil conceived by Stephen Page and Neil Armfield. In addition to blazing a trail for subsequent generations of Indigenous performers, he contributed to the heightened awareness of Aboriginal culture and stories within the community generally.

Juno Gemes took this vibrant image of Gulpilil at the Cooee Gallery in Paddington, while he was on tour with the Yirrkala Dancers.

Gift of the artist 2005. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
© Juno Gemes/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

Juno Gemes (age 37 in 1981)

David Gulpilil AM (age 28 in 1981)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Donated by

Juno Gemes (19 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