Monday, July 5, 2010

Sculpture and Crocodiles
Crocodiles from designer Vincente Wolf's home.

`How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

`How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spread his claws,
And welcome little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!' .....Lewis Caroll

I bought this crocodile because it was the most powerful, viseral sculpture I saw that year. It got even more powerful after I leaned more about the culture and tradition it comes from.

Crocodiles kill more humans than great white sharks. That's what makes the canoes of the Sepik river so powerful. Carved from a single log, with the prow being a crocodile head.

Think about it, you're in a small boat, riding AT  WATER LEVEL, among giant reptiles who would like nothing better than to have you for lunch. Best to blend in. When the boats were no longer serviceable, they were left. Others came and cut the carved heads off and sold them.

A friend who visited the region brought me back this crocodile. It's an amazing carving, but I wonder if it embodies the shift from art being part of life- as a boat, to art for businesss, souveniers for tourists. Have you seen any good crocodiles?

(Update: Dutchbaby was inspired by this post to write about her experiences and memories with crocodiles on her blog. Click here.


dutchbaby said...

Oh my goodness, what a great post. The crocodile is a magnificent creature with a formidable presence. These sculptures are fantastic and the story behind them fascinates me.

The Lewis Caroll quote captures the deceptive calm that a crocodile conveys when he's sunning motionless on the banks of the river.

You've inspired me to do a post on crocodiles soon. They played a role in my family's life when we emigrated from Indonesia to The Netherlands as a child and we saw crocodiles in the Chobe River of the Okavango Delta on our trip to Africa last year.

Patrick Gracewood said...


I"m looking forward to reading about your memories of crocodiles!

That's the magic of blogs, I've only seen four carvings of crocodile canoe heads, (three of them in one collection. total ENVY!) so I'm thinking I'm writing about a topic of very limited interest, but the web helps it to find its perfect audience. You.

dutchbaby said...

Just wanted to let you know that I published my post about crocodiles. Thanks for the inspiration!