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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 Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Ruby Hunter

1996 (printed 2012)
Jacqueline Mitelman

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 63.8 cm x 54.7 cm, image: 43.2 cm x 34.0 cm, frame: depth 4.2 cm)

Ruby Hunter (1955–2010), singer/songwriter, was a Ngarrindjeri/Kukatha/Pitjantjatjara woman from South Australia. At the age of eight she was taken from her family and placed in the Seaforth Children's Home; she later lived with a foster family. At sixteen she met her life partner Archie Roach at a Salvation Army drop-in centre. Hunter released her first album, Thoughts within, in 1994. She won Deadly Awards in 2000 for Female Artist of the Year, 2003 for Outstanding Contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music and 2004 for Excellence in Film and Theatrical Score. She made her acting debut with a key role in Rachel Perkins' One Night the Moon (2001), starring Paul Kelly. In 2004 Hunter and Roach collaborated with Paul Grabowsky's Australian Art Orchestra on Ruby's Story, which told her life story through song and spoken word. The following year, Hunter was invited by Deborah Conway to take part in the Broad Festival project with Sara Storer, Katie Noonan and Clare Bowditch, performing their own and each other's songs. She worked tirelessly to support and encourage young Aboriginal people, running an open house for teenagers. Hunter, who tragically died of a heart attack at 55, said her most proud achievement was keeping her family – Roach, their two children and three foster children – together as a stable unit.

Purchased 2012
© Jacqueline Mitelman

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.
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Audio description

2 minutes 40 seconds
Show transcript

Artist and subject

Jacqueline Mitelman (age 44 in 1996)

Ruby Hunter (age 41 in 1996)

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.

Wesley Enoch and David McAllister
Wesley Enoch and David McAllister
Wesley Enoch and David McAllister
Wesley Enoch and David McAllister

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Australian photographer, Jacqueline Mitelman, discusses her process for creating portraiture.

© National Portrait Gallery 2022
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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