Biennale of Sydney

First Dog on the Moon

First Dog on the Moon

First Dog on the Moon

Born 2010 in Bega, Australia
Lives and works in Huon Valley, Tasmania 

Walkley award-winning political cartoonist for The Guardian, First Dog on the Moon has written and / or illustrated loads of books, held exhibitions of actual art, performed live stage shows and had a hugely popular but quite short (three minute) ABC radio show. Working tirelessly to save an ungrateful Australia from itself, this self-described ‘National Treasure’ was for a time ‘Official Cartoonist’ for the Premiership Winning Western Bulldogs AFL team. First Dog spends most days working at the First Dog on the Moon Institute in southern Tasmania, amongst the bandicoots and the silver wattles, trying to find time to paint, which is actually the reason for doing all the other things.

"My work talks about whiteness and racism a lot because settler Australians believe we have a choice in whether we deal with colonisation or not and it is important for all sorts of different people to challenge that – also, it massively gives racists the shits when I say something in The Guardian like, ‘all white people in this country are racist just by being born here or by breathing the air – racist babies!’ It drives them spare. My work (I was surprised to learn) is deceptive. It’s dogs and penguins and you can’t argue with a penguin or a pineapple, so people often don’t. Also, you have to read all the way to the end and who has the time? The cartoons just go on and on. So trolls and fascists tend to avoid the comment threads, which is nice. I get to bumble along and as long as it is funny it’s ok. For some reason, I seem to be able to express what some people are feeling in a way that resonates and while that is unexpected it is extremely useful. It appears to help some folk occasionally, to bring them pleasure, which is such an honour and I can also make a living out of it - who knew!? In these works, I have given myself permission to take my stream of consciousness about growing up white and in Australia – my feelings / thoughts about my unwanted, but real, racism and my colonialism – and break the normal cartoon template (it may not look like it for two of them but it certainly felt like it). It’s all there in a white supremacist settler Australian heap with adorable animals. I have the best job in the world. In work three – Best In Show – one of the frames was inspired by someone on Twitter (I get a LOT of good material from Twitter even though it is terrible). This person was talking about how white people can view attending a writers festival panel with Indigenous writers as redemptive as a pass out. It isn’t. I cannot find the tweet or First Nation’s author of it to give them credit so it is something else stolen from an Aboriginal person by a white person, sorry. Also, Amy Thunig inspired the structure of the work Invasive – she is awesome."

Exhibited Artwork

First Dog on the Moon, Best in Show, 2020, digital print. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Aesop and the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund. Courtesy the artist

Location: Campbelltown Arts Centre

First Dog on the Moon, Invasive, 2020, digital print. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Aesop and the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund. Courtesy the artist