Reg Mombassa : Behind the works

Looking at Reg Mombassa's playful landscapes, featuring a world where a one-eyed koala looks down on a 'Kengaroo' with a footy, and an iconic Australian Jesus sends BBQ smoke into the sea air, it's very easy to feel a sense of melancholy as an Australian. Amazing melancholy. 

We were so thrilled to be given the opportunity to work with this rock star, and took the chance to also find out a bit more of what's behind the works featured in our new collection. 


But first an introduction from Reg..
As a child, I enjoyed being in the landscape. We lived in outer suburban and semi-rural areas around Auckland and I spent a lot of time wandering around exploring fields, creeks, bush and beaches.  Studying art at high school I started copying paintings from art books. They were mainly impressionist landscapes and I have retained an interest in depicting the landscape in paintings drawings and graphics since that time.  Traveling around with bands has also been useful in terms of observing the landscape and doing drawings as we traveled.  

The original artwork for these pictures were drawn in charcoal and coloured pencil in the studio of my house in the inner western suburbs of Sydney.

Beachside Barbecue was drawn in 2015 for the inside front and back cover of The Great Australian cookbook.  It is an imaginary typical Australian beach scene featuring some of my favoured subject matter.  The 50’s, 60’s style of suburban house, native and domestic animals, gum trees and a telegraph pole.  The sun is setting so the picture is bathed in a late afternoon golden glow and has the long shadows that add a numinous quality to any landscape. 

This picture was done for an Australia Day cover for the Sydney Morning Herald in 2013 and features some of the natural, cultural and built icons peculiar to Australia : the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Uluru, an oppressively hot sun, suburban houses, a football, a crushed beer can , some gum trees and shrubs and some modified native animals.  The Kengaroo is a trans-Tasman amalgam of the Kiwi and the Kangaroo.  The spelling indicates a New Zealand pronunciation of Kangaroo.   One of the gums has a gob of earth blood spurting from a lopped bought.


This picture was also an Australia Day cover for the SMH in 2008.  It features that great Australian social institution the backyard barbecue.  The barbecue is in a rural area and has the Harbour Bridge and an Opera House clad in rusty corrugated iron and fibrolite.  Australian Jesus is mouthing silent words from a blank bible and is accompanied by a one-eyed space dog and a large salivating blowfly perched on a Weber barbecue.  I have always thought that the blowfly would be a good national animal symbol as they are numerous and ubiquitous. Some people find them unattractive and annoying but they can be beautiful, particularly when their wings glisten as they frolic in the afternoon sun.  They also have cute babies.

Reg Mombassa, what a TREAT! 


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