Big things come in little packages, and the same can be said about Noel McKenna’s art. Using a tile as a canvas, these paintings barely reach 15cm high. Each piece reflects the hazy humdrum of a dog’s life, uncluttered and unfettered, with its subject at the centre. Whether humorous and forlorn, these ceramics tread the fine line of whimsy.
McKenna started off studying architecture at university, but soon dropped out for art school instead. After frequenting a paint-it-yourself ceramic shop for ten years, he eventually purchased his own kiln and now he paints in his studio instead of amongst gossiping ladies who lunch. His previous collections include copies of lost dog posters, detailed down to the correct phone number for retrieval. Dogs tied up, waiting for their owners return, are also a recurring theme. His most recent exhibition, Tied Up Dogs Rose Bay, featured a few oils on plywood, lending a warmth and depth of colour to the expectant dogs.
McKenna sees the beautiful in the mundane, making the onlooker pause for a moment at an unremarkable scene made remarkable. An old and fat Jack Russell, a gangly greyhound, a poodle in a jumper. Although affection-inducing, these pictures highlight the quiet sadness and dependency of dogs. McKenna lived in Sydney, along with Melman, a greyhound, and Rosie, a Yorkshire terrier cross.
A heartfelt thank you to all the photographers, artists, illustrators, and writers who trusted us, dived in, and brought us delight, grace, excitement, courage, wilderness, and wonder over the last five years. Their work not only reflects the bonds we share with our animal companions, it also celebrates their spirit.
None of this would be possible without our four-legged counterparts who sprinkle magic dust time and time again, and our readers, who embraced this kooky idea, rallied around us, and made this world theirs too. With friends like these, who needs nine lives?
February 5, 2019