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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.

John Tjakamarra, 1974 (printed 2000)

Jon Rhodes

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 30.5 cm x 40.5 cm, image: 22.0 cm x 32.0 cm)

John Tjakamarra (c. 1937-1992), a Pintupi man born north of Kiwijurra, south of Kintore, made the long walk into Papunya settlement with his family in the early 1960s. The Papunya Tula painting movement, usually dated to the arrival of administrator Geoffrey Bardon in the early 1970s, saw Anmatyere, Luritja, Arrernte, Warlpiri and Pitjantjajara residents commit stories traditionally expressed in the soil or on the body to permanent, portable and marketable media: paint and boards. John Tjakamarra was one of the early painters at the settlement, whose work was brought together in Tjungunutja, a major exhibition at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in 2017-2018. Late in life John Tjakamarra returned to Tjukurla, near his own Country. Jon Rhodes met him at Yayayi Bore in 1974, when Rhodes first started taking photographs on the theme of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal relationship to land. Since then Rhodes has told photographic stories of life in many Aboriginal communities. Photographs from his exhibition Cage of Ghosts, documenting attempts to preserve and protect important Aboriginal cultural sites in south-eastern Australia, have recently been published in his book of the same name.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2008
© Jon Rhodes

Accession number: 2008.69

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Jon Rhodes (age 27 in 1974)

John Tjakamarra

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related information

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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.

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Stephen Zagala discusses Richard Avedon’s work from an Australian perspective.

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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.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

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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.