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Precinct magazine

Issue 5/2008 Pages 1-13


Linda Daniele

While inner city residents continue to debate the newly approved off-leash parks for dogs, Newtown firmly reminds everyone of its dominant doggie subculture, with canine sculptures at its gates.

Collectively known as the Guardian Dogs, this triplet of silver aluminium statues are perched aloft poster bollards that act as gateways to Newtown’s arts and entertainment district.

Located in three areas – St Peters station, Newtown Square, and the corner of Enmore Road – the statues reflect Newtown’s pro-dog stance.  

The sculptures were designed by award-winning Marrickville artist Richard Byrnes in 2006. He said dogs were an obvious and appropriate choice for the precinct, reflecting the range of residents in the area and its spirit of acceptance and tolerance.

“If I’m on King Street, a goth will walk past with a dog on a rope. They might be followed by an executive with a dog wearing a diamante encrusted collar,” he says. “The dogs reflect these various subcultures as well as somehow unifying them.”

Each dog’s mechanics contain quirky references to its surroundings. The sculpture at Newtown Square contains a spoon in recognition of the many restaurants in the immediate vicinity. Bicycle parts in the sculpture at St Peters station are a reference to cycling at adjacent Sydney Park, while the star in the sculpture on Enmore Road pays homage to nearby Enmore Theatre and other local theatres.

Newtown resident and artist Adriana Bermudez says she has loved the sculptures since the day they appeared.

“To me, they tell everyone you’re in a doggie friendly zone and that here the dogs rule. They’re up high and they’re proud, just the way we like it.”

Byrne’s latest project is a $30,000 aluminium installation for North Sydney.