A few years ago, Ivan Clarke took his family on holiday. As he departed, they looked back at their dog, looking wistfully after them. “That dog is lonely,” he said. Upon his return, he sketched, and then painted a picture like none he had ever done before. Instead of a gorgeous realistic landscape, brimming with light, Ivan painted a lively, whimsical image of a dog, standing fully clothed, looking longingly after a departing ship and lit by an over-bright moon. He called it “Bon Voyage.” Without knowing it, a legacy was born. After being asked for an “explanation” time and time again, Ivan began telling all and sundry the story of “Lonely Dog” - or “LD”, as he was later nicknamed, and the world in which he lived.
One thing led to another, the story grew
Enter left stage a U.S. businessman called Jim. Jim had bought and commissioned a number of Ivan’s paintings. On one of his visits from the USA to Queenstown he saw “Bon Voyage” and wanted to buy it. Ivan declined, saying that the painting was “for his children.” On subsequent visits the same conversation was replayed, until Jim finally stepped in and said, “ At least do a few more paintings, and put the overview of the story together and let me show it to some contacts of mine back home.” Not long after, Ivan was contacted by an executive from one of the major movie studios, expressing interest in an option on the story!
Ivan however, had made spare copies of the folder containing the story, and had sent them off to Richard Taylor at Weta Workshop that is most well known for their work in The Lord of the Rings, which went on to earn five Oscars. Richard had also fallen in love with the story, and from this began an enduring relationship where the two would call each other up occasionally and dream things over together.
Meanwhile, Ivan had produced a total of eight paintings and a prodigious amount of gorgeous pencil drawings as the world of the Lonely Dog took shape, fast becoming an alternative reality. Lonely Dog’s musical abilities appeared, along with his band mates, as well as the orphanage where he was first found, cold and lonely, tucked inside a shoe. The town of “Alveridge” (anything but average) grew, the “Catside” of town began to strive for ascendancy over the “Houndside” and everyday life began to grind ever forwards.
Inspired by the enthusiasm for the little folder he had produced, and tired of answering “Wow! What is this all about?”, Ivan put together some light-hearted Alveridgean Tales with the help of a local Queenstown writer, added pictures of his paintings and pencil illustrations and self published “Lonely Dog - The Birth of a Legend” which quickly became known as “The Little Grey Book” as a limited edition of 300, selling them in his gallery at $285 each.
They sold quickly, with the last few selling for $1,000 each! The Ivan Clarke Gallery has now on-sold many of these “Little Grey Books” on behalf of the original purchasers to new buyers on the secondary market, willing to pay more than $6000 just to own what they believe is the beginning of a collectors legacy.
A mixture of Queenstown locals and overseas visitors progressively fell in love with Lonely Dog and his world, and have become avid collectors of all things “Alveridgean” - particularly limited edition prints and drawings. Soon the idea of limited edition bronze character sculptures was hatched between Richard and Ivan. Richard Taylor, while perhaps best known for his special effects wizardry, is first and foremost a world-class sculptor.
The two now had their heads together over such “major issues” as the angle of a tail, and fall of a particular piece of fur. Now, collectors are rejoicing in a life size monumental bronze of LD himself, guitar slung over his back, sloping off into the distance. At a miniature level he is joined by “Bronson”; leader of the Bronson Howlers motorcycle gang - all powerful fore-arms and studded wristbands. “Rolph Flannegan”; Alveridge County Orphanage Headmaster and seminal influence on LD’s fascination with music - who glowers with a mixture of pride and bashfulness. “Celia Creme”; doyen of the feline fashion world - strikes a sultry, end of the evening pose
At the Ivan Clarke Gallery, in Queenstown, surprising things began to happen. Interest in the world of Lonely Dog began to consume both staff and visitors alike. Sales of all things Alveridgean rapidly overtook those of the traditional landscapes. Lonely Dog soon became an independent enterprise in it’s own right completely separate from Ivan Clarke Gallery.
The management team began the 18 month long process of making a really serious attempt to reveal the entire world of Alveridge in one, cohesive whole, gathering the many illustrations, sketches, scribblings and thought starters that defined LD’s world, and placing them together in one enormous volume - the Almalogue.
Titled “Alveridgea - and the Legend of The the Lonely Dog”. This epic leather-bound story-book gives a detailed account of the young hound’s life in which he eventually creates a name for himself as a legendary virtuoso rocker. It is a fascinating work of art in itself. It can be considered to be that of a Travelogue, Almanac and Poets journal including Alveridgean music, folklore and character interviews.
It is hard to describe the Almalogue. It looks like an extremely large, ancient book from another world. The book has a central medallion recessed in the leather embossed cover, and weights 4.3kg. It is presented in a fabulous wooden case with a cast bronze motif inlaid . The Almalogue book was originally written by “hounds”, and was intended to be a somewhat patriotic book portraying all things Alveridgean, alongside their national hero, their claim to fame - Lonely Dog.
The Almalogue then went on to be stored in he Alveridge County Library. The book has since been “stolen” and found once again, not only with all kinds of bits and pieces inserted into it (including postcards and beer mats), but also annotations all throughout it’s pages from the “locals” disputing and defacing as they see fit! There is also evidence that it has spent some time circulating the swanky Catside circles of Northern Tolleston. Hand bound, this “book” from cover to cover is a work of art in itself. Is it the be all and end all of Alveridge? Absolutely not! But it is the closest to it at this stage.
Created as the foundation for which screen-play, scriptwriters and all future “Lonely Dog” multi-media will be based on, it is believed that this limited edition work of art could have significant investment worth in years to come.The tale is inspired by Ivan’s family pet dachshund Arthur Snout. “The book explores outrageous notions and ideologies with a whole range of paranormal ideas you would expect to find around the next corner in downtown Port Alveridge,” says Ivan.