Contemporary artists will consider the canine in an upcoming exhibition at Jan Murphy Gallery.

The humble ‘studio dog’ has played confidante, silent critic and muse to artists for centuries.

Some of the more celebrated subjects include David Hockney’s dachshunds, Stanley and Boodgie, who had their portraits painted literally hundreds of times.

“I make no apologies for the apparent subject matter,” Hockney once wrote. “These two dear little creatures are my friends.”

Lucien Freud’s whippets, Pluto and Eli, sat for the artist on several occasions, either on their own or posed with his human subjects.

Pablo Picasso’s dog, Lump (also a dachshund), was the artist’s loyal friend for many years, and died just 10 days before Picasso himself.

Andy Warhol’s dachshund, Archie, became something of an alter ego for the artist, with Warhol often deflecting interview questions he didn’t want to answer to his four-legged friend.

As it happens, a number of artists represented by Fortitude Valley’s Jan Murphy Gallery also have studio dogs.

Many of these dogs sit quietly on studio floors while their owners paint, sculpt and produce work. Lucy Culliton owns several dogs — indeed, Lucy’s studio is scattered with mattresses for her five trusty studio assistants.

Ben Quilty’s dog, Betsy, was given to him as a puppy by his friend and fellow artist Luke Sciberras, and Rhys Lee’s dog, Stan, is a 15-year-old Kelpie-Collie beloved by the entire family.


Image: Rhys Lee, Stan, 2016

They sit quietly, don’t criticise and stay alert for visitors. Somehow, studio dogs instinctively know not to chew brushes, bark during moments of concentration, or lift their legs on stacked canvases!

Dog Days is a simple ode to these special friends. It’s an opportunity for their owners to honour their companions, and to thank them for their tireless devotion and late nights burning the midnight oil before exhibition deadlines.

Exhibiting artists include Jason Benjamin, Lucy Culliton, Jason Fitzgerald, James Guppy, Claudia Greathead, Linde Ivimey, Rhys Lee, Adam Lester, William Mackinnon, Robert Malherbe, Guy Maestri, Leith Maguire, Ben Quilty, Monica Rohan, Martin Smith, Marina Strocchi, Deborah Williams and Heidi Yardley.

Dog Days will be on show at Jan Murphy Gallery (486 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley) from Saturday 25 February to Saturday 25 March.