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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.

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Return (Balang T.E. Lewis)

2016
Philip Myers

type C photograph on paper (frame: 64.5 cm x 87.5 cm, sheet: 60.0 cm x 83.0 cm, image: 51.5 cm x 76.5 cm)
Image not available (NC)

Balang TE Lewis (1958–2018), a Murrungun man, was an actor, singer, songwriter and cultural leader. Born in Arnhem Land to a Murrungun/Nunggubuyu mother and a Welsh father who soon left them, he worked in a variety of jobs to support the family before training as a mechanic in Darwin. His breakout role as an actor came when the casting director for The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978) spotted him at an airport and cast him in the title role. He went on to appear in many television productions and films including We of the Never Never (1985), The Proposition (2005), Red Hill (2010) and Goldstone (2016). His theatre credits included Shadow King (2013), an interpretation of King Lear performed in English and multiple Aboriginal languages, and the Darwin Theatre Company's production of Othello (2006). His debut album Sunshine After Rain was awarded Music Release of the Year at the Northern Territory Indigenous Music Awards in 2006. In 2001, after 40 years away from his country, Lewis returned permanently to Arnhem Land to heal and reconnect with his culture. His journey was described in the documentary Finding Maawirrangga (2017).

Philip Myers took this photograph during the filming of Finding Maawirrangga. In the film, Lewis travels alone by boat to find the legendary sandy island of Maawirrangga in the western Gulf of Carpentaria.

Gift of the artist 2019

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

Philip Myers

Balang T E Lewis (age 58 in 2016)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Related portraits

1. Tom E Lewis [Balang T E Lewis]. All Juno Gemes.

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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.

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