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


Milka (teredo worms in the mangroves)

circa 1950s


Tom Djawa


1905 – 23 Mar 1980

Language group: Gupapuyngu, Arnhem region

Artist profile

  • Details

    Other Title
    Bark painting (Teredo worms in the mangroves)
    Place where the work was made
    Milingimbi Central Arnhem Land Northern Territory Australia
    circa 1950s
    Media category
    Bark painting
    Materials used
    natural pigments on bark
    65.4 x 31.1 cm
    Purchased 1962
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Djawa Estate. Licensed by Aboriginal Artist Agency Ltd, Sydney

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Tom Djawa

    Artist profile

    Works in the collection


  • About

    The Yolngu scholar, Dr Gumbala explained in 2014 that Djäwa celebrates the ‘food that is gathered in mangroves, very champion and popular food … bush tucker’ in 'Milka (teredo worms in the mangroves)' c1950s. They were painted by Djäwa for his maternal mari, or grandmother, who belonged to the Wubulkarra clan nation. Derived from the pattern made by milka on a sacred log when they burrow into its timber, they are painted as a trail of diamonds, a unique, abstracted design that is mesmerising in its repetition. In the upper section of the work a bold yellow form dominates. This is reminiscent of the tail of the trevally fish and is representative of all mandjikay, all groups of people coming together.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 2 publications

Other works by Tom Djawa

See all 9 works