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Samuel Wagbara Crocker island Bark painting

Samuel Wagbara is an early bark painter from Crocker island. His bark paintings are often mistaken for better-known artists. The aim of this article is to assist readers in identifying if their aboriginal bark painting is by Wagbara. It compares the few known examples of his work.

If you have a Samuel Wagbara painting to sell please contact me. If you just want to know what your bark painting is worth to me please feel free to send me a Jpeg.  I would love to see it.


In general bark paintings by Wagbara are easily confused with those of Namatbara. He has a similar looseness in the way he does figures and is not afraid to show which sex the figures are. Like Paddy Compass Namatbara, he was not influenced by prudish missionaries. One difference between their works that I have noticed is that Wagbara depicts his figures with one eye. Namatbara tends to show the urethra whereas Wagbara doesn’t.

Samuel Wagbara also tends to use more yellow and more cross-hatching in many of his barks.

Wagbara also did some barks of animals but these tend to be far less collectible than his figurative paintings.


The only other information I could find is that he was born in 1928 and died in 1979. His works could also be mistaken for barks by Jimmy Mijau Mijau, January Nangunjari, or even early works by Yirawala.

I suspect at least one work by Djambulula has been attributed as coming from Wagbara

Along with many other Arnhem Land Artists who did bark paintings, there is not a lot of information readily available about Wagbara. If anyone knows more information about the biography of Wagbara, please contact me as I would like to add it to this article.

The packing aboriginal bark painting is best done by an expert. If you need to make a box, make it so that is of an inflexible material with the bark painting floating inside the box on foam beads or bubble wrap.

Care for Aboriginal Bark Painting by ensuring it always stays dry and does not move as ochres can flake off. A bark painting is best stored in a dust-free place and away from insects.

All images in this article are for educational purposes only.

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Western Arnhem land Artists and Artworks

Samuel Wagbara Bark painting Images

The following images are not a complete list of the artist’s works but give some idea of his style and variety.

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