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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.

Joe and Brenda

1990 (printed 2013)
Michael Riley

from the series ‘Michael Riley Portraits 1984-1990’
inkjet print on paper (frame: 55.0 cm x 43.4 cm, image: 53.0 cm x 41.0 cm)

Joseph Croft (c. 1926–1996) was a Gurindji/Mudpurra man from the Northern Territory and member of the Stolen Generations. Removed from his family when he was eighteen months old, he spent his childhood in government institutions. In 1944, he became the first Aboriginal person to attend an Australian university, studying engineering at the University of Queensland. After working as a contracting surveyor on dam building and railway line rebuilding projects from 1950 until 1971, Croft was appointed as a Cultural Adviser in the Federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs from the mid-1970s and served on the Anti-Discrimination Board. Croft remained active in advocating Indigenous rights throughout his life. His daughter Brenda L. Croft has carried on her father's legacy of activism through her work as an artist, curator, lecturer and freelance writer.

Michael Riley, a Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi photographer, filmmaker and video-artist, was one of Australia's most influential Aboriginal contemporary artists. Originally Riley didn't plan to include this portrait of Joe and Brenda in his 1990 Portraits by a Window exhibition. Then Brenda intervened. 'And I just said, you know, "Well if you want to make an old man happy, you'd better print it." So we did. We spent the entire night printing it in Sandy Edwards' studio, printing it by hand. So we framed it and – lucky for him – Dad bought it at the opening.'

Purchased 2013
© Michael Riley/Copyright Agency, 2021

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

Michael Riley (age 30 in 1990)

Brenda L Croft (age 26 in 1990)

Joseph Croft (age 64 in 1990)

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.

Michael Riley's portraits

Portrait story

Linda Burney, Brenda Croft and Darrell Sibosado share memories of Michael Riley and his photographic practice.

Tracey
Tracey
Tracey
Tracey

Sophisticated and glamorous

Magazine article by Amanda Rowell, 2015

Michael Riley’s early portraits by Amanda Rowell.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency