Awarded the Archibald Prize in 1978 for his portrait of literary antipodean, George Johnston, Ray Crooke was included in the Tate Gallery Exhibition of Australian Art (1963), and was an Official War Artist in Vietnam (1966). His work is represented in major collections including the National Gallery of Australia, all State and many regional galleries, the Vatican Collection of Rome as well as numerous private collections overseas. His work depicting the landscape and people of Fiji is particularly coveted.
His painting trips to Thursday Island, New Guinea, Cape York and Fiji continued throughout his life to be inspiration for his work. Crooke explored contour and silhouette using rich blocks of colour, and the nuances of positive and negative space in the manner of Gauguin. The artist revealed in his travel diaries and sketchbooks the basis for his paintings – the strong light effects at different times of the day, the colour of the lush foliage after rain, and contrasting golden skin tones.