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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.

Archie Roach

2008
Peter Hudson

oil on canvas laid on composition board (support: 180.0 cm x 200.0 cm)

Singer/songwriter Archie Roach (b. 1956) was removed from his parents at the age of four. After two unsuccessful foster placements he settled with a family at Lilydale. When he was eleven he asked the couple he believed to be his parents why he was black and they were white; they told him his parents had died in a house fire. At the age of fifteen, he was contacted by his natural sister, who told him their mother had just died. Bitterly, he took to the road, to spend the next fourteen years on the streets. In 1987 he wrote his first song, ‘Took the Children Away’, which he first performed during the protest movements at the bicentenary celebrations in 1988; his performance was met with stunned silence. Paul Kelly produced Roach’s first album, Charcoal Lane (1990), for which Roach won two ARIAs and a human rights award. Victoria’s nominee for the 2020 Australian of the Year, Roach’s memoir Tell me why (2019) won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing.

Peter Hudson’s landscapes of Roach’s Country in south-western Victoria were used in the 2010 children's book for 'Took the Children Away'. In this haunting portrait of Roach he evokes the musician's painful, yet inspiring, journey. As Hudson noted in a 2018 interview: 'Whether I'm doing a landscape painting or a portrait, there has to be a sense of the spirit of the person or the place.'

Gift of the artist 2010. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
© Peter Hudson

Artist and subject

Peter Hudson (age 58 in 2008)

Archie Roach AM (age 52 in 2008)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Donated by

Peter Hudson (2 portraits)

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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