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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.

David Gulpilil's Hands

2004
Ross Honeysett

photographic print from film on paper (sheet: 30.5 cm x 38.1 cm, frame: 46.5 cm x 56 cm depth 1.5 cm)

David Gulpilil AM (b. 1953), actor and dancer, is a Yolngu man of the Mandalbingu language group and was born near Maningrida in Arnhem. His electrifying appearance in Nicolas Roeg's film Walkabout (1971) secured him the position of the best-known Aboriginal actor of the 1970s. His subsequent film appearances include Storm Boy (1976), The Last Wave (1977), Crocodile Dundee (1986) and Rabbit Proof Fence (2002). In 2002, he garnered Best Actor awards from the Australian Film Institute Awards, the Inside Film Awards and the Film Critics' Circle Awards for his role in The Tracker. Some years ago, Gulpilil returned to his ancestral lands to subsist through hunting crocodiles and fishing. He has explored the contradictions and difficulties of living between Yolngu and balanda (European) cultures in a smash one-man stage show, Gulpilil (2004), conceived by Stephen Page and Neil Armfield, for which he received standing ovations at every performance. A huge portrait of Gulpilil by Craig Ruddy, David Gulpilil: two worlds controversially won the Archibald Prize of 2004. In 2006 Gulpilil featured alongside his son, Jamie, in the Yolngu-dialogue arthouse hit Ten Canoes, which he conceived with director Rolf de Heer.

Gift of the artist 2021
© Ross Honeysett

Artist and subject

Ross Honeysett (age 51 in 2004)

David Gulpilil AM (age 51 in 2004)

Subject professions

Performing arts

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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.

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The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency