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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.

Gulpilil (David) Dreaming - Kakadu 2006

George Fetting

type C photograph on paper (frame: 148.1 cm x 122.4 cm)

David Gulpilil AM (b. 1953), actor and dancer, is a Yolngu man of the Mandalbingu 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. Subsequently, he appeared in Storm Boy (1976), Mad Dog Morgan (1976), The Last Wave (1977) and Crocodile Dundee (1986); portrayed Bennelong in the television series The Timeless Land (1980); and had roles in other Australian television productions including Homicide and Rush. His performance in The Tracker (2002) saw him named Best Actor at the Australian Film Institute Awards, the Inside Film Awards and the Film Critics’ Circle Awards. Gulpilil’s further film credits include Rabbit Proof Fence (2002), The Proposition (2005), Australia (2008) and the Yolngu-language Ten Canoes (2006), the idea for which Gulpilil developed with director Rolf de Heer and in which he starred alongside his son, Jamie. Some years ago, Gulpilil returned to his ancestral lands to subsist through crocodile hunting and fishing. The contradictions and difficulties of his existence between Yolngu and balanda (European) cultures were examined in his one- man autobiographical stage show, Gulpilil, conceived by Neil Armfield and Stephen Page, which premiered at the Adelaide Festival in 2004. Named a Member of the Order of Australia in 1987, in 2013 Gulpilil was awarded the Red Ochre Prize, Australia’s highest peer-assessed honour for Indigenous artists, at the National Indigenous Arts Awards. His most recent films are Satellite Boy (2012) and Charlie’s Country (2013)

One of four portraits of Gulpilil in the Collection, this 2006 photograph by George Fetting (b. 1964) depicts Gulpilil at a waterhole in Kakadu, and was a finalist in the 2007 National Photographic Portrait Prize.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2008
© George Fetting

Accession number: 2008.46

Currently not on display

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National Photographic Portrait Prize 2007 Finalist

Artist and subject

George Fetting (age 42 in 2006)

David Gulpilil (age 53 in 2006)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Donated by

George Fetting (4 portraits)

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.

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Previous exhibition, 2007

Photography is the most pervasive and popular medium for portraiture and makes a natural fit with the Gallery, being a natural extension of the Gallery's longstanding commitment to photography as a contemporary portrait medium.

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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.