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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.

Senator Bonner

1990
Robert Campbell Jnr

synthetic polymer paint on canvas (frame: 120.5 cm x 97.0 cm, support: 118.5 cm x 95.0 cm)

Neville Bonner AO (1922 –1999) was Australia’s first Indigenous parliamentarian. Bonner’s mother was a Jagera woman; his father was English. Only attending school for two years in his mid-teens, he worked in various labouring jobs before moving to Palm Island, where he became involved in community affairs. He was Queensland president of the One People of Australia League from 1967 and national president from 1980. He joined the Liberal party after the 1967 Referendum and in 1971 the party invited him to fill a Senate vacancy. He was re-elected four times between 1972 and 1980, serving as a senator for twelve years before resigning from the Liberal Party in 1983. After leaving Parliament he served on the Board of Directors of the ABC and the council of Griffith University, and was a patron of World Vision and Amnesty International.

A boomerang maker's son, Ngaku/Dhunghutti artist Robert Campbell Jr started out creating paintings for the tourist market, but subsequently developed a distinct, vivid style combining graphic, naïve and traditional motifs to document 'past and present, the people, the landscape, and my own relationship with both.' Though completed over a relatively short period, his body of work now stands as a key record of twentieth-century Indigenous experience.

Purchased with funds provided by Tim Fairfax AC 2008
© Estate of Robert Campbell Jnr. Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney.

Artist and subject

Robert Campbell Jnr (age 46 in 1990)

Neville Bonner AO (age 68 in 1990)

Subject professions

Government and leadership

Supported by

Tim Fairfax AC (53 portraits supported)

Related portraits

1. Neville Bonner, n.d.. All Louis Kahan.

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.

Black tie or wombat: How formal should I go?

Magazine article by Michael Desmond, 2008

Michael Desmond discusses the portrait of Senator Neville Bonner by Robert Campbell Jnr.

Eye to eye

Previous exhibition, 2019

Eye to Eye is a summer Portrait Gallery Collection remix arranged by degree of eye contact – from turned away with eyes closed all the way through to right-back-at-you – as we explore artists’ and subjects’ choices around the direction of the gaze.

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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