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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.

Study of Louis Nowra, 2018

Imants Tillers

synthetic polymer paint, gouache on 64 canvas boards (nos. 108101-108164) (overall: 242.0 cm x 242.0 cm)

Louis Nowra (b. 1950), writer, grew up in dire family circumstances on a housing commission estate in Melbourne. Through his uncle, who was a stage manager for JC Williamson, he developed an interest in theatre. In 1973, having abandoned his literary studies at La Trobe University, he began his career as a playwright with several pieces for the avant- garde Melbourne theatre company La Mama. In the mid-70s he changed his name and moved to Sydney, where John Bell directed his play Inner Voices at the Nimrod Theatre in 1977, and Rex Cramphorn his Visions in a converted cinema near Hyde Park in 1978. Over the 1980s he was resident dramatist with the State Theatre Company of South Australia, wrote The Golden Age(1985), and adapted Xavier Herbert’s Capricornia for the Belvoir Theatre (1988). His first semi-autobiographical play, Summer of the Aliens (1992), was followed immediately by his second, Così (which won the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Prize) and, much later, a third, This Much is True (2017). Along with dozens of plays including Radiance (1993) and the ‘Boyce trilogy’ of 2004-2006 he has brought forth the memoir The Twelfth of Never (2000), which won the Courier-Mail Book of the Year Award, and the novel Ice (2009) which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. He was a member of the writing team for the acclaimed SBS TV series, First Australians, which took out several major writing awards in 2009. His non-fiction writing includes the long essay Bad Dreaming (2007), Kings Cross: A biography (2013) and Woolloomooloo: A biography (2017).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Commissioned with funds provided by Tim Bednall, Jillian Broadbent AC, John Kaldor AO and Naomi Milgrom AO 2018

Accession number: 2018.46.a-lll

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Imants Tillers (age 68 in 2018)

Louis Nowra (age 68 in 2018)

Related portraits

1. Imants Tillers, 1992. All Greg Weight.

Related information

The Companion

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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.

The Writer, Peter Goldsworthy, 2018 Deidre But-Husaim
The Writer, Peter Goldsworthy, 2018 Deidre But-Husaim
The Writer, Peter Goldsworthy, 2018 Deidre But-Husaim
The Writer, Peter Goldsworthy, 2018 Deidre But-Husaim

Off grid

Magazine article by Aimee Board, 2019

Aimee Board ventures within and beyond to consider two remarkable new Gallery acquisitions.

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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.