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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.

Poet Robert Adamson at Parsely Bay, 2008

Juno Gemes

inkjet print on paper (sheet: 54.1 cm x 72.7 cm, image: 40.4 cm x 53.2 cm)

Robert Adamson (b. 1943), poet, divided his childhood between Neutral Bay and the Hawkesbury River, where his grandfather lived. From his teens until his mid-twenties he spent most of his time in correctional institutions, where he developed an interest in poetry. He edited the magazine New Poetry from 1968 to 1982, for part of this time with his first wife, Cheryl Creatrix, with whom he also worked on Prism Books. Since then, he has combined creative writing with reviewing, editing and publishing, from 1986 onward with his own imprint, Paper Bark Press, on which he collaborates with his wife Juno Gemes and Michael Wilding. Adamson's first book of poetry was Canticles on the Skin (1970); he took out the first of his many awards with his Collected Poems (1976), which won the Grace Leven Poetry Prize. The Clean Dark (1989) won him several major awards including both the NSW and the Victorian Premier's Awards and the Banjo Award. His autobiographical collection, Wards of the State, combining prose and poetry, was published in 1992, and the autobiography Inside Out in 2004. In between, he and Juno Gemes collaborated on The Language of Oysters (1997). For some time now, Adamson has lived on the Hawkesbury, near the place where he spent much time as a boy, and the river 'flows through' his poetry. His recent volumes include Reading the River (2004) and The Goldfinches of Baghdad (2006).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2008
© Juno Gemes/Copyright Agency, 2020

Accession number: 2008.63

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Juno Gemes (age 64 in 2008)

Robert Adamson (age 65 in 2008)

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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.

Margaret Whitlam, 2005 Sahlan Hayes
Margaret Whitlam, 2005 Sahlan Hayes
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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.