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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), actor, Indigenous elder and activist, was born at the Cummeragunja Mission on the Murray River and taken from his mother when he was less than twelve months old. Raised in a boys’ home in Melbourne, he was seventeen when he was jailed for the first time, his heroin habit and consequent regular resort to petty theft seeing him in and out of prison throughout the subsequent decades. In 1971, he was involved in establishing Nindethana, Australia’s first Indigenous theatre ensemble, and subsequently had roles in the television series Ben Hall (1975) and Rush (1976), and the film The chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978). In 1981, he appeared in the Channel 028 (SBS) mini-series Women of the Sun. Further film roles came in 1993 with Blackfellas and Tracey Moffatt’s Bedevil. Since then, having beaten addiction and re-connected with his cultural heritage, Charles has performed in a number of television and theatre roles, and was the subject of the 2008 documentary, Bastardy, which, as Charles put it, chronicled his transition ‘from a rogue and a vagabond to a person of note and a role model in my community’. Between 2010 and 2013, he toured Australia with his autobiographical work, Jack Charles versus the Crown.

Rod McNicol’s portrait of his friend Jack Charles won the National Photographic Portrait Prize for 2012.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2013
© Rod McNicol

Accession number: 2013.29

Currently not on display

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National Photographic Portrait Prize 2012 Winner

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.

Life and Times: Portraits by Rod McNicol video: 3 minutes
Life and Times: Portraits by Rod McNicol video: 3 minutes
Life and Times: Portraits by Rod McNicol video: 3 minutes
Life and Times: Portraits by Rod McNicol video: 3 minutes

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.

Rosie Batty, 2017 Nikki Toole
Rosie Batty, 2017 Nikki Toole
Rosie Batty, 2017 Nikki Toole
Rosie Batty, 2017 Nikki Toole

Express Yourself

Previous exhibition, 2018

This exhibition celebrates Australians whose unique life experiences symbolise social and cultural forces. Uncompromising individuality defines them. The portraits are drawn from the National Portrait Gallery’s collection of contemporary photography and drawing.

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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.