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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.

Matilda (Ngambri)

2020
Brenda L. Croft

inkjet print (from original tintype, wet plate collodion process) on archival paper (frame: 153.0 cm x 113.0 cm depth 4.2 cm, image: 119.7 cm x 90.9 cm, sheet: 140.3 cm x 99.9 cm)

Dr Matilda House (b. 1945), is a Ngambri woman who has dedicated her life to the pursuit of social justice for Indigenous people. A tireless supporter of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy since its founding in 1972, she helped found the Aboriginal Legal Service in Queanbeyan in the 1980s and had a key role in establishing the Australian National University's Tjabal Indigenous Higher Education Centre in 1989. On the eve of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations in February 2008, she became the first person to perform the Welcome to Country at the opening of Federal Parliament. Her contribution to her community was recognised by the ANU with the conferral of the Degree of Doctor of the University in 2017.

Gurindji/Malngin/Mudburra artist, scholar and curator Brenda L Croft's portrait is from a series honouring Cammeraygal woman Barangaroo (c. 1750–1791), whose resilience and fiercely held connection to place inspires many contemporary First Nations women. Croft employed the wet plate collodion process for the series because 'it doesn’t hide anything ... It's not about making people look like something that they're not. It’s about showing everything that you've lived through, all that you’ve learnt.'

Purchased with funds provided by The Calvert-Jones Foundation 2020
© Brenda L Croft/Copyright Agency, 2021

Artist and subject

Brenda L. Croft (age 56 in 2020)

Dr Matilda House (age 75 in 2020)

Related information

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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.

Michael Riley's portraits

Portrait story

Linda Burney, Brenda Croft and Darrell Sibosado share memories of Michael Riley and his photographic practice.

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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 National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency