Marcia Langton AM (b. 1951), Foundation Chair and Professor of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne, is a descendant of the Yiman and Bidjara nations of Queensland. She has published widely in the field of Aboriginal studies, on topics including land tenure, agreement-making, art and film. Her publications include Burning Questions: Emerging Environmental Issues for Indigenous Peoples in Northern Australia (1998) and Settling with Indigenous People (2006). Langton is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences of Australia, a member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), and a board member of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership. She was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1993 for services to anthropology and advocacy of Aboriginal rights. In this portrait Langton’s seated pose refers to her interest in Buddhism; black and white skulls signal the politics of humankind; and a radiant diamond-sun alludes to her successful work with Aboriginal communities and mining companies. These symbols are deliberately open to interpretation: the overall feeling is one of dynamism and energy.
Brook Andrew (b. 1970), a Wiradjuri artist, placed Langton in a pose referring to the interest in Buddhism that she developed while living in Asia in the early 1970s. He says that the black and white skulls signal the politics of humankind, and the radiant diamond-sun alludes to the sitter’s work with Aboriginal communities and mining companies; but the symbols are deliberately open to interpretation.
Commissioned with funds provided by Marilyn Darling AC 2009
Accession number: 2009.162.1.a-o
More about the artist and subject
Collection in focus: Brook Andrew
Experience the artistic clout of Brook Andrew’s portraits of Marcia Langton AM and Anthony Mundine.
Magazine article, Portrait 37
Dr Christopher Chapman explores the symbolism in the portrait commission of Marcia Langton by Brook Andrew.
Permanent collection catalogue
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.