Skip to main content

The National Portrait Gallery is temporarily closed to the public until further notice.

Menu

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Steve Irwin

2005
Robin Sellick

inkjet print on paper (sheet: 63.5 cm x 57.6 cm, image: 48.4 cm x 41.5 cm)

Steve Irwin (1962–2006) achieved international fame as the ‘Crocodile Hunter’. As a boy, Irwin moved to Queensland with his parents, who established a reptile park near Caloundra. Irwin trapped crocodiles in North Queensland before returning to take the park over, renaming it the Australia Zoo in 1992. Footage of his adventure honeymoon became the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter, which hatched on US TV in 1997 and was soon bought by cable giant Animal Planet. By 1999 The Crocodile Hunter was broadcast worldwide and Irwin’s catchcry ‘Crikey!’ had become synonymous with Australian zest for life. In 2002, the year his film Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course appeared, Irwin founded Wildlife Warriors Worldwide, an international conservation fund. He died off the coast of Queensland in September 2006 while filming a stingray, the barb of which pierced his heart. His family declined a State funeral, but some 300 million people watched his memorial service.

Photographer Robin Sellick (b. 1967), who grew up in Broken Hill, worked as an assistant to many of the leading US photographers of the early 1990s, including Annie Leibovitz. In 1994 he returned to Sydney to work for publications including Vogue, Who Weekly, Australian Style and marie claire. Since then, his portraits have appeared on the covers of NME, Q Magazine and German Rolling Stone. Sellick took this photograph of Irwin and Siam at the Australia Zoo in late 2005. Constrained for time, as the elephant was due to appear in her daily show in 15 minutes, the photographer coaxed Irwin to drop his trademark exuberance for a shot that showed 'the stuff [he kept] protected'. As the beast grew restless and Irwin became more comfortable with acting straight, Sellick took shot after shot, hoping that one of them would prove to be the one that he sought. Few would have foreseen that opportunities for photographs of the larger-than-life Irwin were running out, or that this image of him, imbued with such an uncharacteristic air of vulnerability, would take on a particular poignancy before a year had passed.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2006
© Robin Sellick

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Robin Sellick (age 38 in 2005)

Steve Irwin (age 43 in 2005)

Donated by

Robin Sellick (5 portraits)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Adam Scott by Robin Sellick

Portrait story

An interview with photographer Robin Sellick about his portrait of golfing champion Adam Scott.

Steve Irwin
Steve Irwin
Steve Irwin
Steve Irwin

Crikey!

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2006

Robin Sellick captured a rare moment of quietude from the late conservation star Steve Irwin.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency