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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.

Maria

1986 (printed 2013)
Michael Riley

from the series ‘Michael Riley Portraits 1984-1990’
inkjet print on paper (frame: 41.5 cm x 43.4 cm depth 5.0 cm, image: 39.1 cm x 40.9 cm)

Maria (Polly) Cutmore, Gomeroi Elder and direct descendent of the Weraerai clan of the Gomeroi, was Michael Riley's first cousin and the subject of many of Riley's first attempts at photography. She grew up in Moree, and Riley in Dubbo, but they were as close as siblings all their lives. Maria and her sister Toni moved to Sydney in the early 1980s, where she worked as a clerk for Aboriginal Employment. One Sunday morning she and Toni were still in their dressing gowns when Riley arrived to take them for a drive. They ended up in his studio in Balmain, where he took this photograph of Maria. She later returned permanently to Moree and speaks frequently of her concerns for Country: the lack of water, the impact of mining. In particular, she lobbies for acknowledgement and meaningful recognition of the 1837–1838 massacres at Waterloo Creek.

In Riley's photograph Maria wears a necklace that belonged to her partner at the time, David Prosser (who was the sitter in Riley's last series, They call me niigarr 1995). Maria and David are still friends, and he still has the necklace.

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 26 in 1986)

Maria Cutmore

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.

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