'Walkabout' actor stars in gallery

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The Independent Online

An oil painting of Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil has won the much-coveted Archibald Prize.

The artist Craig Ruddy, who was awarded £14,350 in prize money said he had long admired Mr Gulpilil: "David is a man who crosses the lines that still divide two contrasting worlds ... One is an infinite world of spiritual connection with the land and universe as a whole, and the other a materialistic conformation of western civilisations".

Mr Gulpilil first shot to fame in 1970 as a fifteen-year-old, when Nicholas Roeg cast him as the lead in Walkabout, the story is of an Aboriginal boy coming of age.

His most recent role was in The Tracker in 2002. He has also appeared in Rabbit Proof Fence where he played a man hired to track three mixed-race Aboriginal girls taken from their birth families and placed in an institution. The film caused much controversy on release in Australia and highlighted the crimes committed against the Aboriginal community.

Despite his screen success, Mr Gulpilil spends most of his time living in his dilapidated house in northern Australia where he hunts to feed his family.

The artist and subject met after much persistence on the part of Mr Ruddy. Mr Gulpilil gave him an hour, which stretched into a day and has now invited Mr Ruddy to draw him in his traditional milieu.

"He is a very different person when he is on the land to when he is on the stage or working in the film industry, and I am very keen to get out there," Mr Ruddy said.