Tiddalik is an important Creation Story which belongs to a number of First Peoples groups across different parts of Australia, however Tiddalik is a Gunnai word for frog, from Gippsland VIC. I created this artwork as a marketing piece for the theatre show of the same name that I wrote and produced, based on the original Gunnai story. Many Australian children are familiar with the tale, of a little frog whose greed sees him drink all of the water in his pond, in the rivers, creeks, and oceans. In the story, all of the animals who are starving of thirst approach one of their Elders and ask for his advice. To which the Elders says “if you make him laugh, maybe he’ll open his mouth and the water might come pouring back out”. So they set about making him laugh. There are many different versions for how this plays out.

Indeed many versions of this story have been published through the years. However, none of them acknowledge whose story it is, and in most cases they were made by people from overseas appropriating this culturally important story, which is not only a fun tale, but one that like all Creation Stories (Dreamtime is a term invented by a non Indigenous guy in Central Australia), serves as a vehicle for teaching children about important things in their world. This one teaches children about sharing, geography, where water can be found, how all life is interconnected, and about water management.

The Tiddalik show that I produced was wildly successful. We were able to present to packed houses of 200, 3 x per day, 6 days per week, over the course of around 60+ shows. It’s a creative project I am very proud of, and one that at some point I’d like to follow up, with an illustrated children’s book. It’s a shame that it wasn’t available when I ran the show, since children and their families streamed into the museum shop looking for the book. In time, the only merchandise that was produced was a beautiful bamboo dinner set, which was also quite popular.