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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.

Neville Bonner

n.d.
Louis Kahan

fibre-tipped pen and pen and ink on paper (sheet: 57.0 cm x 38.5 cm)

Neville Bonner AO (1922–1999), politician, was a Jagera Elder and the first Aboriginal federal parliamentarian in Australia. Born on Ukerebagh Island at the mouth of the Tweed River, New South Wales, Bonner worked in labouring jobs before moving to Palm Island, Queensland, his wife's traditional home, which was at that time a government-run penal settlement. There, he began his involvement in community affairs, joining the Palm Island Social Welfare Association. After moving to Ipswich in 1960, he joined the One People of Australia League (OPAL), later becoming Queensland President in 1968 and National President in 1980. He joined the Liberal Party after the successful 1967 Referendum. In 1971, the Liberal Party invited him to fill a Senate vacancy; famously, soon after giving his maiden speech, he demonstrated how to throw a boomerang on the Senate Lawn. Elected as Senator in four subsequent elections between 1972 and 1980, he frequently crossed the floor to vote with the Opposition on Indigenous issues. After retiring from politics, he served as a member of the Board of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and was a patron of World Vision and Amnesty International.

Well-known for his pen and ink drawings, Louis Kahan's works comprise an expressive composite portrait of Australian public figures in the 1960s and 1970s. This quick sketch captures Bonner's strength and focus.

Gift of Mrs Lily Kahan 2017. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
© Louis Kahan/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

Louis Kahan

Neville Bonner AO

Subject professions

Government and leadership

Donated by

Lily Kahan (52 portraits)

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.

Self portrait
Self portrait
Self portrait
Self portrait

A guy from Paris

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2018

Sarah Engledow on a foundational gallery figure who was quick on the draw.

Senator Bonner
Senator Bonner
Senator Bonner
Senator Bonner

Black tie or wombat: How formal should I go?

Magazine article by Michael Desmond, 2008

Michael Desmond discusses the portrait of Senator Neville Bonner by Robert Campbell Jnr.

© 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