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Home Sweet Home: works from the Peter Fay collection
11 October – 18 January 2004

Noel McKENNA | Lost, Heathcliff | 2001
Noel McKENNA
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 1956
Lost, Heathcliff 2001
watercolour with pen and ink over pencil on paper
57.4 X 38.0 cm

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PF Here is this dog� someone�s pet� lost

PF Here is this dog… someone’s pet… lost. And what Noel has done here is to recreate in paint the dynamic of the poster, mainly that which has come into play since home computers and desktop publishing.

Everyone can now publish a photograph or print a poster up of their lost dog or bird, or cat, or whatever it might be, and what Noel has done is to try to recreate somebody else’s art, which wasn’t in painting, and yet at the same time, through his painterly skills, bring out the humanity of this dog. It’s someone’s particular pet. You get to know this Heathcliff. And someone’s lost it, and there’s the address and the phone number; all of those things are there.

We might find it tomorrow, for this person. And so it doesn’t become a dog, in a way; it almost becomes someone in our own lives, even though every street post in Sydney has got someone’s ‘lost’ story.

After 9/11, when the ‘lost dog’ poster as we know it became the ‘lost person’ poster, of loved ones who were never to return. It’s such a poetic evocation of that sense of what ‘lost’ is, and I look at just the word ‘lost’, and the word means nothing; the meaning dissolves in front of you if you just stare at it, and yet the stare of the dog does have a huge humanity that is us, it is not the dog.

And I suppose, in a way, I’ve always felt a bit lost, myself.