At odds with dogs

Dickens, Karla
Production date
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Object Detail

At odds with dogs
Production date
mixed media
110.0 x 110.0 cm
Object type
Interpretive text
The Black Dog You lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas. It was my 5th birthday. When I blew out the candles on my cake, I wished to be happy. I remember clearly lying in bed as a 10 year old, seriously worried about my purpose in life. The concern of others was visible when I hit the scary age of 13. At 15 the doctors gave me my first label. The journey since has taken many forms: inside and out. You are either a cat person or a dog person. No holds barred, I’m with the dogs. I have a shadow, it has been loyal from an early age. Like all the four-legged dogs that have walked over me, I have learnt that love and compassion win over. Each dog is an opportunity for relationship, learning, understanding and training. Some better behaved than others, but all with unconditional love on offer. I still fight with my shadow at times. But, more than not I love it _ at least, the best I can. Five years ago I picked up a stray dog at the Taree truckstop. Jet-black in colour, like the dog before. His fur was lacking, with scars a plenty. I was clear with myself; it would be an “outside dog”. That lasted less than a week. Truckstop Jerry from Taree has become my lover-boy, my tangible shadow. He sleeps: with his head on a pillow, in bed, at my feet in the studio, upright in the passenger seat of the car across my lap when I stop for the day. As I feed, love and spoil my furry son, I wonder who is the boss. I need to fight to make this point clear at times, I do. He needs to know this balance is essential. His eyes, ears and smell have become an extension of me, aware of anything or anyone that comes close. I know this soul and he knows mine. I now know my shadow, my inside life. I know the best things to feed it, I know the worst foods. I have learnt how long to stay in bed in the morning with it, how much attention is healthy. I appreciate how it keeps me company during long periods in the studio, how it allows me to fall deep into uncomfortable awareness. I value the need to express it. My shadow has a richness. it has colour, depth, its own kind of magic, its special connections. These paintings are my attempt to give the viewer a peek into the not always black journey of living with the black dog. When his shadow became disconnected, Peter Pan had Wendy sew it back on. If my shadow went astray, would I search for a needle? I’m not sure. But if Truckstop Jerry went walkabout, I’d surely do everything I could to find my Black Dog.
Credit line
Mackay Regional Council Collection, Artspace Mackay
Accession number


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