REG Mombassa isn’t a dog person, which is a bit like finding out Beatrix Potter wasn’t big on rabbits.
Still, a rich vein of canine ran through the wall-sized sketch with which Mombassa and fellow Mambo luminary Michael Bell beguiled an audience this morning at Newcastle Art Gallery.
Mombassa, 64, soft-spoken and diminutive in jeans, t-shirt and blazer, doesn’t attach much significance to the dogs.
“I actually have a cat. Dogs, I suppose, are a more common pet and they’re quite humorous.”
The gallery didn’t advertise the artists’ visit for fear of overcrowding, but baby boomers in loud shirts packed in beside Gen Xers with well turned-out kids to watch, hushed, as the pair put charcoal to wall.
Mombassa’s Space Dog with Saliva, with bulging eyeball and steaming rear deposit, dominated the canvas.
“This was all improvised,” explained Bell, before Mombassa added, “we’ve used these designs before, so it’s improvised but we had an idea what we were doing.
Space Dog can also be seen slobbering next to a Mambo-fied Nobbys Lighthouse in Mombassa’s recent work Mechangaroo with pencil, commissioned to coincide with the Newcastle exhibition.
T-shirts printed with the design have all but sold out.
“Some of the industrial parts of the city, while they’re not good for the world, I find interesting in a human way,” said Mombassa.
On Friday night Mombassa, the former guitarist for Mental As Anything, had thrilled fans by playing in his band Dog Trumpet at a party on Laman Street. More than one reveler was croaky the next day.
Mombassa and Bell, joined in the gallery by Mambo original art director Wayne Golding and t-shirt guru Eddie Zammit, were mobbed by fans seeking autographs and selfies.
“This means so much to us,” a lady in a loud shirt told Mombassa.
Mambo: 31 Years of Shelf Indulgence will feature at Newcastle Art Gallery until January 24.