Cairns Artist canine capers
IT’S impossible to look at Mark Cochrane’s latest art works without having a giggle.
In the foreground, dogs are darting, dancing, staring, glaring, snarling, salivating or doing what dogs do best — chasing other dogs.
In the background are the houses, huts, boxes and abodes of the Far North. Mark calls them castles. Everyone has one and we all love them.
Put them together and these canine capers and quirky architectural delights have taken on a life of their own.
“People are a bit intrigued about the style because it’s not a photograph, it’s not a painting and I’m playing with perspective,” says the Yorkeys Knob artist.
“There’s no rules with me.”
His DogHouseFNQ series captures the essence of Far North Queensland. A corrugated tin shack in Babinda, a masonry block home in Mareeba, a timber and fibro bungalow in Atherton, a red brick home in Bungalow.
“I’ve been photographing unusual suburban homes around Cairns and Far North Queensland for quite a while and I think these little castles go unnoticed.
“They’re often just down the road from us and they’re beautiful moments of time captured when there was a grace or a style or a purpose that they were built for and they can be neglected. I hope they’re not forgotten. They are really part of our history.
“People say ‘I’ve seen that somewhere, where is it?’ and I can quickly rattle off where they are. Some are at Mareeba, Atherton, Townsville, Ingham. It’s not just Cairns, but mostly Cairns.
“There are some really fabulous retro homes around Cairns. There’s an interesting array of periods still captured in its suburbs and they’re fun.”
The first of the dog-home combos came into being when Mark took a photo of a dog outside a Yorkeys Knob home.
“That was always the intention, to take photographs of dogs outside their real homes. But it became very limiting to find a great dog and a great house in the one place.
“In the end, it was a case of meeting people in parks, on the beach and taking photographs of their dogs. Sometimes they were a bit cautious as to why I was in the park taking pictures, but most people really joined in. People were holding up their dogs, tossing them in the air.”
Mark also had some explaining to do to home owners.
“A lot of people were suspicious and understandably so.
“There’s a guy leaping out of a car taking photographs from the street. When people approached me, I explained that I wasn’t doing anything shonkey and I showed them the images on my iPhone,” he says.
With the photos done, Mark’s storytelling began.
“That’s where the fun really started, matching a dog with a house. I made my own blends of homes and dogs and stories. It became limitless, really.
“The basis of the works is that they’re constructed from photographs and used like templates. Then I paint over the top of them, electronically. It’s hyperrealism.
“I’m a photographer, artist, painter. All those things are just blurred now. I just go for it and every piece is different.”
The first of Mark’s works went on display at Tanks Art Centre during Tropical Gaze 2018, the annual exhibition for the Cairns Tropical Pride festival.
He also packaged them into a calendar with some of the proceeds going to YAPS animal shelter in Smithfield.
“It was just a trial, but it has been really popular. I’ve had people contact me from America and buy the calendar from as far away as Ireland.”
Meanwhile, thecollection is growing.
“I’m continually working on another piece and I’m always meeting interesting dogs.”
Mark Cochrane is a film maker and photographic artist who has exhibited a variety of art, ranging from a traveling Nan and Pop retrospective series “Welcome to Cairns” - to a series of “Robots destroying Cairns”.