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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.

Herb Wharton

1994
Jim Rolon

gelatin silver photograph, selenium toned on paper (sheet: 50.6 cm x 40.5 cm, image: 37.8 cm x 37.8 cm)
Image not available (NC)

Herb Wharton AM (b. 1936), Kooma Elder, poet and author, was born at Yumba, an Aboriginal camp near the Queensland town of Cunnamulla. He began writing poetry in his fifties, after a long career as a stockman, drover and labourer. In 1990 he entered several poems in a competition for unpublished Aboriginal writers, and as a result was commissioned to write a novel for the University of Queensland Press. The resulting book, 1992's Unbranded, drew on Wharton's experiences as a stockman in the Australian interior. This was followed by the fictional works Cattle Camp (1994) and Where Ya' Been, Mate? (1996), as well as the autobiography Yumba Days (1999), written during a residency at the Australia Council's Paris studio. A frequent participant in major literary festivals throughout Australia and the world, Wharton's awards include the Australian Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature (2012).

Jim Rolon took this image while on assignment to photograph drovers for Wharton's book Cattle Camp. As he recalled: 'The portrait of Herb Wharton was taken in Mt Isa after we had photographed the drovers we came there to meet. The days were long at that time of year, and I waited until the end of the day to photograph Herb … I can still feel the heat in the air.'

Purchased 2013

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

Jim Rolon (age 38 in 1994)

Herb Wharton AM (age 58 in 1994)

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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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