We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Crocodile and fire dreaming




No image
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    North-east Arnhem Land Northern Territory Australia
    Media category
    Bark painting
    Materials used
    natural pigments on bark
    69.2 x 30.3 cm
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Gift of Harry Messel 1988
    Not on display
    Accession number
    Artist information

    Works in the collection


  • About

    The crocodile men stole fire and took it with them to Blue Mud Bay where it exploded. To escape the flames, the crocodiles swam northward and became sacred to a number of people. The sacred diamond pattern represents the burning water; the central charcoal section is a charred part of the adjacent coast.

    Harry Messel

  • Places

    Where the work was made

    North-east Arnhem Land

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

    • Gamarada, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Nov 1996–16 Feb 1997

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 2 publications

    • Edmund Capon AM, OBE, Steven Miller, Tony Tuckson, James Scougall, Mollie Gowing, Harry Messel, Craig Brush, Ronald Fine, Alison Fine, Gordon Davies, Rosalind Davies, Christopher Hodges, Helen Eager, Rosemary Gow, Sandra Phillips, Daphne Wallace and Ken Watson, Gamarada, Sydney, 1996, 57 (colour illus.).

    • Jonathan Cooper (Editor), The Art Gallery of New South Wales Bulletin, 'Yiribana', pg. 22-23, Sydney, Nov 1996-Jan 1997, 23 (colour illus.).

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