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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.

Jack Charles

2011
Rod McNicol

inkjet print on paper (frame: 103.7 cm x 82.7 cm depth 3.5 cm)

Jack Charles (1943–2022), revered Wiradjuri, Boon Warrung, Dja Dja Wurrung, Woiwurrung and Yorta Yorta Elder, activist, actor, musician and artist, was born at the Cummeragunja Mission on the Murray River and taken from his mother as a baby. Raised in a boys’ home in Melbourne, he was seventeen when he was jailed for the first time, his heroin habit and resort to petty theft seeing him in and out of prison during the subsequent decades. In 1971, he was involved in establishing Nindethana, Australia’s first Indigenous theatre ensemble. He subsequently had roles in the television series Ben Hall, Rush, Gods of Wheat Street, Cleverman, Black Comedy, Play School, Wolf Creek and Preppers and the films The chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Blackfellas, Tracey Moffatt’s Bedevil, Mystery Road and Pan. The subject of the 2008 documentary Bastardy, from 2010 to 2018 Charles toured with his one-man show Jack Charles versus the Crown, which won a Helpmann Award. In 2020 he released his memoir, Jack Charles: Born Again Blakfella.

Rod McNicol met Charles in the early 1970s and made many portraits of his friend over the years. When this portrait won the 2012 National Photographic Portrait Prize, Charles described it as ’a fresh look at me: you can see the whites of my eyes instead of them being bloodshot. You can see this man is beyond reproach, a self-proclaimed elder in his own right now.’

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2012 Winner

Purchased 2013
© Rod McNicol

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

Rod McNicol (age 65 in 2011)

Jack Charles (age 68 in 2011)

Subject professions

Activism

Performing arts

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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency