Three Dreamings: Fire, Mulga Seed and Emu

Photo: iocolor, Seattle

Three Dreamings: Fire, Mulga Seed and Emu


Rosie Nangala Fleming

Australian Aboriginal, Warlpiri people, Yuendumu, Western Desert, Northern Territory, born ca. 1930

Meet the Blue-Tongued Lizard Man. He’s here, as a single red inverted U-shape at the top of the painting, having just come out of a cave represented by a large arc shape. This Lizard Man is singing a magical fire song and using a fire stick to spread gray flames with pink tips that are flaring out around the country. The fire is chasing his two sons because they have transgressed against him. These brothers are seen as pairs of red U-shapes, and three sets of three-toed footprints show the route of an Emu who is crossing this land. While the story may seem fanciful, Aboriginal fire stick farming enhances the diversity of desert estates. Let the Lizard Man be congratulated.

Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
71 1/4 x 46 7/16 in. (181 x 118cm)
Gift of Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan
Provenance: [Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs, Australia]; Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan, Seattle, Washington, 1993
Photo: iocolor, Seattle
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistoryCharlotteville, Virginia, Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, Fire Dreaming, 1998.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art from the Kaplan & Levi Collection, May 31 - Sept. 12, 2012 (Nashville, Tenessee, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, June 23 - Oct. 15, 2017; Madison, Wisconsin, Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin, Jan. 26 - Apr. 22, 2018; Austin, Texas, Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, June 3 - Sept. 9, 2018; Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, Audain Art Museum, Oct. 5, 2018 - Jan. 28, 2019). Text by Pamela McClusky, Wally Caruana, Lisa Graziose Corrin, and Stephen Gilchrist. Cat. no. 6., pp. 64-65, reproduced.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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