Reg Mombassa – Local Artist

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From mental as anything to dog trumpet … mambo to exhibitions, reg has stamped an iconic style on the australian music and art scene that is as individual as he is. he reflects on where his talent has taken him.

Tell us about the story behind your name, Reg Mombassa?

It was when I started with Mental as Anything. Before we did our first record, we used to think of ridiculous names for each other and make them stick and use them for a while.

Luckily, the one I had, that was the one I had when we did our first record. And fortunately I got that, ‘cause the one I had previous was ‘Dorky Platter’!

You’ve put together a collection of your original works that is being showcased at the Glasshouse Art Gallery? Tell us more …

Basically, it is a selection from the stockroom at Watters, which is the gallery that I have been showing at for 35 years now.

It’s a selection of originals from the stockroom and also a selection of digital prints which are taken from paintings and drawings and made into a limited addition digital print.

They are taken from rather recent landscape and graphic pictures from the last 2 or 3 years.

Do the pieces you have selected have a Mambo theme, given that your exhibition coincides with the Country Energy Australian Surf Festival also being held here?

I have done a lot of stuff for Mambo. I did my first piece in 1986, and I did a lot of stuff up until about 3 or 4 years ago. I still do the odd thing, but pretty rarely.

The Mambo brand is very surf oriented, which is quite ironic, ‘cause I’m not actually a surfer. I don’t even swim or go to the beach.

There were about 10 regular artists, who were surfers like Jennings, who actually founded Mambo. But I have always hung out with surfers, so I know a bit about the surf culture. It wasn’t a big problem for me to do the surf oriented stuff at the time.

How do you combine all your interests in music and art?

Well, I’m still in a band called ‘Dog Trumpet’ with my brother Peter, who was the bass player in the Mentals. We both left the Mentals at the same time, about 10 years ago. We have just released an album called ‘River of Flowers’ a few weeks ago, which has been very well received so far.

So we are sort of doing gigs to promote that, and as well as that I’m just doing my day job, which is paintings and drawings towards another show at Watters Gallery. Also, the odd graphic job on the side; that’s basically what keeps me busy.

Over the course of your career, what have been some of the highlights ?

I guess the artistic highlight would have been doing some of the inflatable pieces in the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Did you design them?

Yeah, I designed about 12. I didn’t make them; obviously they had a big team of people making them, as they were quite large – about 12-16 foot high and inflated with air.

I also designed some stages and a large fibreglass blowfly, which was supposed to fly on a wire across the stadium. Jimmy Barnes was going to come out with a swatter and swat it, but because it was too windy that night, they couldn’t use it.

Seeing all those things coming out onto the stage and knowing millions of people were watching it was pretty amazing.

How often do the selected works go on tour, or is this just a one off?

This is just a one off for Port Macquarie.

But I did have a survey show, which is more like a history of all of my previous works, and that was shown at the S.H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney – and that toured around a bit.

I have also been in Mambo touring shows and Mental as Anything touring art shows, so I have done a few tours.

Have you visited Port Macquarie before?

I have, yeah! I hitchhiked there when I was about 21 or so and stayed with a friend, but I have also played there with the Mentals at the Club a few times.

What do you think people will like about seeing your exhibition?

Well, it just gives a small picture of what I do and what I have been doing recently. It has quite a few landscape pictures, but also a few crazy pictures in there as well. It’s not a large exhibition – about 20 pictures.

Do you have to be a little bit crazy to come up with some of your designs and ideas?

I actually think most artists are slightly mentally ill. But I have been drawing since I was little kid; I had that obsession and a little bit of talent and people kept encouraging me. So I kept doing it, basically.

Thank you Reg.

View Reg’s exhibition at The Glasshouse Regional Art Gallery.

Our Opening Hours are 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday.

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