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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.

Lowitja O'Donoghue

2006
Robert Hannaford

oil on canvas (frame: 159.7 cm x 159.7 cm, support: 136.8 cm x 136.8 cm)

Lowitja O'Donoghue AC CBE (b. 1932), Indigenous rights campaigner, is a Yankunjatjara woman. Removed from her mother at the age of two, she was raised in a mission home and worked as a nurse before joining the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in 1967. By 1975, she was its regional director in South Australia. She was Foundation Chair of the National Aboriginal Conference in 1977 and chaired the Aboriginal Development Commission from 1989 to 1990. O'Donoghue was Australian of the Year in 1984, when she became the first Aboriginal person to address the General Assembly of the United Nations. While Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission between 1990 and 1996, she helped to draft the Mabo legislation. Currently she is Patron of Reconciliation South Australia and of the Lowitja Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.

Robert Hannaford said of O'Donoghue that he observed a 'vast understanding and sympathy in her face, a sadness', but also thought she looked 'fantastic in that light I've got in that studio'. The pair became friends during the many hours of sittings involved in creating the work.

Commissioned with funds donated by BHP Billiton Limited, Rio Tinto Aboriginal Fund, Newmont Australia Limited, Reconciliation Australia, Hon Paul Keating and Hon Fred Chaney 2006
© Commonwealth of Australia

Artist and subject

Robert Hannaford (age 62 in 2006)

Dr Lowitja O'Donoghue AM CBE (age 74 in 2006)

Subject professions

Activism

Supported by

Hon. Fred Chaney (1 portrait supported)

Hon. Paul Keating (1 portrait supported)

Newmont Australia Ltd (1 portrait supported)

Reconciliation Australia (1 portrait supported)

Rio Tinto Aboriginal Fund (1 portrait supported)

BHP Billiton (1 portrait supported)

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.

Anatomist's eye

Magazine article by Diana Warnes, 2016

Robert Hannaford has completed around 400 portraits over the span of his career. 

The hands have it

Magazine article by Angus Trumble, 2016

Angus Trumble treats the gallery’s collection with a dab hand.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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