Charlie the paparazzi dog stands, camera at the ready, looking expectantly at the new law courts in Hunter Street.
The 150-kilogram cast bronze statue took up his vigil last month in front of property developer Jeff McCloy’s office in the Telstra building.
The former lord mayor has a growing passion for public art and has plans to roll out more pieces across the Hunter.
“I’m not one for wandering through art galleries, but I certainly greatly appreciate public art out there in the field where citizens can see it,” Mr McCloy said.
The statue is the creation of Sydney husband and wife art team Gillie and Marc, whose animal-based works also stand in New York and Beijing.
Mr McCloy said Charlie was a playful reflection on the media photographers who sometimes congregated outside the courthouse.
“It’s just a bit of fun. There’s paparazzi outside the law courts,” he said.
“People stop to take selfies with it almost every day. It’s quite incredible.”
But Mr McCloy also sees a more serious side to art installations in public places.
“I think it’s enormously important for a city. In Melbourne they have art tours. Brisbane now is starting to get a lot of public art.
“I think it brings a level of appreciation by the public.
“I think it’s good for the city. Hopefully, there’ll be much, much more of it.”
Mr McCloy has also installed public art at his housing subdivisions, including at Medowie (paper plane, koalas) and Teralba (a pelican and fish), and he has plans for “massive” cows at the Hereford Hill housing estate at Lochinvar.
He will visit bronze foundries in China this month and has talked to Gillie and Marc about acquiring four more works.
“We’ve become more serious with the quality. We’re looking at bronzes now in our subdivisions,” he said.
“People look after their communities and their city when there is a proliferation of public art in the place.”
Gillie and Marc, who are both committed environmentalists, have created a series of statues of their alter-ego characters, Rabbitwoman and Dogman.