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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.

Jack Charles

2011
Rod McNicol

inkjet print on paper (frame: 103.7 cm x 82.7 cm depth 3.5 cm)

Jack Charles (b. 1943), Boon Wurrung and Dja Dja Wurrung Elder, activist and actor, was taken from his mother when he was four months old. Raised in a boy's home in Melbourne, his heroin habit and consequent regular resort to petty theft saw him in and out of prison for decades. Charles began acting in the early 1970s and in 1972 co-founded Nindethana, Australia's first Aboriginal theatre group. During the 1970s, Charles had roles in television series and appeared in the film The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978). Further film roles came in 1993 with Blackfellas and Bedevil. Since that time, having beaten addiction and reconnected with his cultural heritage, Charles has performed in many theatre, film and television roles, including the 2012 Sydney Festival production, I am Eora. Charles was the subject of the 2008 documentary, Bastardy, and from 2010 to 2018 toured the world with his autobiographical work, Jack Charles v The Crown.

Since Rod McNicol and Charles met at Nindethana in the early 1970s, McNicol has made several portraits of his friend. Charles sees this 2012 portrait as 'a fresh look at me, you can see the whites of my eyes instead of them being bloodshot. You can see this man is not using anymore, he is beyond reproach, a self-proclaimed elder in his own right now.'

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2012 Winner

Purchased 2013
© Rod McNicol

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Rod McNicol (age 65 in 2011)

Jack Charles (age 68 in 2011)

Subject professions

Activism

Performing arts

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.

Rod McNicol

'Life and Times'

Portrait story

Echoing 19th-century photography, Rod McNicol's portraits give us a chance to look quietly at the human condition.

Tariro, 2010 by Rod McNicol
Tariro, 2010 by Rod McNicol
Tariro, 2010 by Rod McNicol
Tariro, 2010 by Rod McNicol

Village people

Magazine article by Dr Christopher Chapman, 2015

Christopher Chapman discusses Rod McNicol's photographic portrait series Newcomers to my village.

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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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