The Year of the Snake: Top 10 Snakes in Australian Art

"Snake" by Sidney Nolan
(MONA Tasmania)

Here in Australia the snake is familiar to most people thanks to the prevalence of the slithering serpents in the land down under. The serpent holds particular significance for the Australian Indigenous people who identify with the Rainbow Serpent as the creator being as reflected in their Dreaming stories. The Rainbow Serpent is the protector of the land, its people, and the source of all life. However, the Rainbow Serpent can also be a destructive force if it is not properly respected.

The snake is featured in the work of many Australian artists from the surreal paintings of Arthur Boyd to the deeply sacred minimalist images by Aboriginal artist Rover Thomas. A representation of the wild and arid desert landscape of Central Australia, the snake is a common motif throughout modern and contemporary Australian art history. In celebration of the Year of the Snake, ARTINFO AUSTRALIA delved into the annals of Australian art history to find the ten most significant works of art that feature the snake.


Click the slideshow to see the top ten snakes in Australian art