February 27, 2009

Lonely Dogs and Wetas

Late last century, I lived in beautiful Queenstown and discovered some of the local talent there... particularly Ivan Clarke, an exceptionally talented artist.

Ivan was best known for his landscapes; amazing, deep, luminous, three dimensional canvases that you felt you could step into. They were highly sought after by the visiting tourists. I watched him working in his studio, then set up out by his home, and asked him how on earth he knew when to stop... layering on more of the deep oils each day to create the textures, and he said "he just knew".

Two years ago, we were back visiting Queenstown and I was thrilled to find Ivan's new gallery.

 As well as the oils, he had moved into a new direction, capturing stories of his dog, a dachshund called Arthur..living in a fictional world. The first picture was triggered from the look on his dogs face when they left him behind. It captured my imagination, and since then, I have taken to showing the students this picture, and some of his animal related ones, when we study local and international transport of cats and dogs.... 
A few years ago, Ivan Clarke - a successful Queenstown landscape painter, went on holiday. As he departed, he looked back at his dog, looking wistfully after him. "That dog is lonely," he said.
Upon his return, he sketched, and then painted a picture like none he had ever done before. Instead of a gorgeous realistic landscape, brimming with light, Ivan painted a lively, whimsical image of a dog, standing fully clothed, looking longingly after a departing ferry, and lit by an over-bright moon. He called it "Bon Voyage.” Ivan also began telling his children the story of "Lonely Dog".
Perhaps the thing that took this onto success was that Weka Workshops Richard Taylor also got involved to create the statues. If the name seems familiar, think Academy Awards, Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Chronicles of Narnia, as Richard and Weta were the talent behind the creations of the sets and costumes. This is the tip of the iceberg as far as their work goes, but brought them international acclaim and awards.

Yesterday the news broke of the mermaids tail....., also developed by Weta.

So what reminded me of all this today?
Lonely Dog is going to be a movie star. 
Warner Bros has snapped up the film rights for an unusual picture book, Alveridgea and the Legend of the Lonely Dog, developed by Queenstown artist Ivan Clarke.

It couldn't happen to a nicer dog.... congratulations Ivan and Arthur.


  1. You told this wonderful story so well with your words and pictures...thanks so much for sharing! :)

  2. wow, such an amazing talent and as always, talent like that don't go unnoticed...

  3. Lovely artwork. I like looking at proper paintings l am not into abstract.

  4. Lovely post and a story tolf magnificently. Really enjoyed it! The landscapes are amazing I must say... And I will definately go see the upcoming movie.

    I also wanted to thank you Fi, for all your words and comments you have left for me during this little time we have '' known''. It does not seize to amaze me how you pck up on things that matter to me, and say things that encourage and lift me. It is not always so easy to do. Even the latest one, really shows me that you get me... Someone gets me! It is very comforting to know. So thank you Fi.

  5. Those pictures are beautiful esp the first one, that would look amazing in my house. Lovely blog to read.

    CJ xx

  6. the landscapes are amazing.they looke magnificent,i like your beautiful picture


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