Skip to main content

The National Portrait Gallery is temporarily closed to the public until further notice.

Menu

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.

Tom E Lewis [Balang T E Lewis]

Juno Gemes

inkjet print on paper (image: 30.7 cm x 45 cm, sheet: 34.7 cm x 49 cm)

Balang T.E. Lewis (1958–2018), a Murrungun man, was an actor, singer, songwriter and cultural leader. Born in Arnhem Land, 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).

The magnetic and charming personality which made Lewis such a compelling and successful actor is captured in Juno Gemes' portrait. With his leather jacket, white shirt and aviator sunglasses Lewis invokes the feeling of James Dean as he poses against a wall papered with posters announcing upcoming gigs at the Sydney Trade Union Club in Surry Hills.

Purchased 2021
© Juno Gemes/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

Juno Gemes

Balang T E Lewis

Subject professions

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.

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

The Gallery

Visit us, learn with us, support us or work with us! Here’s a range of information about planning your visit, our history and more!

The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night

Support your Portrait Gallery

We depend on your support to keep creating our programs, exhibitions, publications and building the amazing portrait collection!

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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