Reg Mombassa (Aka Chris O'dougherty)
Born in New Zealand in 1951, immigrated to Australia with his family in 1969. Attended the National Art School, Sydney 1969-70. Returned to art school in 1975 and obtained his diploma of painting in 1977.
Formed rock band Mental as Anything in 1976 with four other art students. They became a popular band and have released 11 albums and 27 singles, with 20 entering the top forty. They have toured in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, England, Europe, the United States and Asia.
The band has held three group art exhibitions in 1982, 1990 and 1998. The 1990 show toured regional galleries in NSW, ending at the Westpac Gallery in Melbourne. The 1998 also toured throughout Australia.
In 1987 the band painted a tram for the Victorian Ministries of Art and Transport, featuring a design by Reg and his brother Peter.
Reg left the Mental’s in April 2000 after 25 years, so that he could concentrate on his art.
His first painting exhibition was held at Watter’s Gallery, Sydney in 1975. He has had one man shows at Watter’s in 1986, 91, 93, 95, 98, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007. A survey show of Reg’s artwork spanning the last thirty years or so opened at the S.H. Ervin in January 2007. The show was opened by the actor Jack Thompson on January 10th. This show is travelling to the Mornington Peninsula and Darwin, and other as yet unannounced locations.
In 1991 he formed the band Dog Trumpet with his brother Peter O’Doherty. They have produced four albums and two E.P.s.
Chris/Reg began working as a freelance artist in 1976, designing T-shirts and posters for organizations such as Greenpeace, the Rock Eisteddfod, Circus Oz, the Opera House Trust, the Surrealist Exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, Redfern Legal Aid, the Wilderness Society, Westmead Children’s Hospital, The Powerhouse Museum, The Paralympic Arts Festival etc.
He has worked closely with Mambo Graphics since 1986 designing t-shirts and posters. The Ray Hughes gallery in Sydney has held two Mambo exhibitions in 1990 and 93. A touring exhibition was opened in June 1994 at the Darwin Art Gallery and toured the rest of Australia. A new Mambo exhibition was opened in Byron Bay, NSW in December 1998. In April 1999 Reg was invited by the city of Milan to give a workshop to graphic artists at the Galleria Aiap and to give a presentation at the Triennale di Miliano. At the same time there was an exhibition of Mambo posters at the Nightwave 99 trade fair in Rimini an Italian seaside resort, where Reg also gave a presentation.
In June of 1999 Mambo held an art exhibition of original artwork and posters in London Among the bands that he has designed record covers for are; Crowded House, Mental as Anything, Dog Trumpet, Mondo Rock, Paul Kelly and John Lydon’s band P.I.L.
In 1994 Mambo Graphics published ‘The Mambo Picture Book of Wisdom’, which is a collection of Reg’s pictures and quotes and “Art Irritates Life” which includes all Mambo artists. In 1998 Mambo published “Still Life with Franchise” also a collection of Reg’s Mambo artwork and quotes as well as other Mambo artists. Examples of his work have appeared in over 70 publications including Rolling Stone, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and the London Observer.
Transworld Publishers put out a Reg Mombassa calendar and diary in every year from 1994-7 and Mambo have produced a Reg Mombassa calendar in 97 and 98.
His ‘Real Wild Child’ exhibition poster, which was commissioned by Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, won first prize in the poster category of the ‘Association of American Museums 1995 Design Competition’. There were 1,050 entries including all the major American museums.
Reg received the 1996 ARIA award (Australian Record Industry Award) for ‘Best Australian Cover Art’ for Mental as Anything’s ‘Liar, liar pants on fire’ CD.
He designed the ‘Hero’s ‘segment for the Sydney 2000 Olympics Closing Ceremony. The designs included 12 six-metre high inflatables, 2 twenty-metre helium filled dirigibles, 3 stages and 16 inflatable crowd balls. He also designed the image that was used for the lining of athlete’s uniforms and the closing ceremony athlete’s shirts
The Victorian Tapestry Workshop invited Reg to contribute a design for a 2 metre square section of a 43.5 metre long Federation Tapestry to be completed and installed in the Melbourne Museum in November 2001. Subsequently they have made 4 more tapestries based on his designs, which will be unveiled at the Tapestry Workshop Gallery in Melbourne on the 9th of October 2002.
In April 2002 Reg was selected by the Melbourne based Visible Art Foundation to have 3 of his works very enlarged to make an installation on the outside of the Republic Tower building in Collins Street, Melbourne.
In September 2002 he commenced a weekly appearance of artwork and writing in The Daily Telegraph until December 2004.
Early 2003 Reg was asked to be a patron of “A Just Australia’, a volunteer group who work towards fair treatment of refugees.
November 2003 he had the honour of being invited to open the Colin McCahon retrospective “A Question of Faith” at the NSW Art Gallery.
Appeared as a featured extra ‘gypsy artist’ in the Jan Sardi movie “Love’s Brother” in March 2004.
His artwork is included in the permanent collections of: The National Art Gallery, Canberra Art Gallery of New South Wales Powerhouse Museum of NSW University of Sydney Union
Reg is inspired by the wind, semi-professional birthday clowns, heavy machinery and the behavior of domestic animals. He is married with three children and lives in the inner west of Sydney.
Further information may be found at the Mental as Anything, Mambo, Dog Trumpet and Watters Gallery websites.
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