Mural honours much-loved mutts

Doug Calverey’s dog Bella, a mini greyhound rescue from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, above, far right, is famous for carrying two tennis balls in her mouth

Most dogs leave an all-too fleeting mark on their surroundings: a hind leg lifted on a fire hydrant here, a “deposit” left on a pavement there, but this is not the case for the mutts of Lakeside’s Spoon Street Park.

A mural that has taken shape on an outside wall of the park’s public toilets pays homage to the hounds of the neighbourhood. And for the owners of dogs that have since died, it is a poignant memorial to a loyal friend.

It all came about as a result of a discussion that Dave Marriner and Sally-Ann Lotter started on the Lakeside Past and Present Facebook page.

Mr Marriner, who has a keen interest in the old stone quarries above Boyes Drive that date back to the late 1800s, suggested a mural of the stonemasons and their tools for the toilet block on the corner of Spoon and Approach streets.

The Lakeside Park Mural group was then started, and it soon had 48 members. Mr Marriner asked them come up with suggestions and designs for the wall.

Lakeside resident Doug Calverley, who later came up with the idea to have the dogs who frequent the park painted on the wall, said there were many suggestions and people submitted pictures of guinea fowl, porcupines, flowers, indigenous plants, and children playing on the playground, but a lack of funding stalled the project.

Mr Calverley said the park was a hub of activity in the mornings and evenings with residents walking their dogs.

“Come rain or wind or shine, the Spoon Park dog walkers are there every day because their dogs will not let them get away with a lazy nod-off on the couch,” he said.

This is when he came up with the idea of a dog mural.

“A quick investigation and discussion during my evening walks showed that there were indeed many dog owners who would like to see their mutts, alive or dead, immortalised on the dog wall and were keen to put their hands in their own pockets to pay for the privilege. My proposal was approved by the Lakeside Park Mural group, and for my efforts, I was tasked with the management and the implementation,” he said.

They started the tedious process of getting permission from the City of Cape Town to paint the wall.

Ms Lotter completed the application procedures while her husband, Ivan, walked door-to-door to every resident whose property looks out onto the proposed mural to get their permission.

Once they had all the permissions, in May last year, artist Chantal Ely, of Mural Wall Art, was chosen for the job. Some of her work can be seen at Save our Seas in Kalk Bay.

Ms Ely said she had panicked at first when given the assignment as she doesn’t like portraits. She had to get photographs of each dog to be painted on the wall and they had to be taken from a specific angle.

She also worried that the rough texture of the wall would make it hard to render detail.

However, once the surface had been prepared and she had started the project, one dog after the other “came alive” on the wall. She said it took her about a day to paint three dogs.

“My biggest challenge was the Shar Pei with all its wrinkles,” she said.

After the wall had been completed, a French bulldog, Nala, who is also on the wall, had walked up to it and started barking. “This is how realistic it looks,” she said.

The wall was completed in December 2021 and is home to 20 dogs, including some that have died.

Since then, Mr Calverey has received further requests for another 22 dogs to be painted, and Ms Ely has agreed to paint them.

Ms Lotter’s dog, Flikka, died two years ago, and she said it was “lovely” for her and her husband to walk past the wall where Flikka had spent many happy hours.

Mr Marriner’s dog, Charlie, who also died, is on the side wall facing the quarry. He said Charlie was his favourite dog and he often visited him in the park.

Genie Vittu said she loved the idea of having their “darling” husky, Oyster, up on the wall of doggy fame – together with his best friends.

“Not only is it a piece of art, but it’s also memories in the making. Some doggies on the wall have passed on but are remembered with love,” she said.

Ward councillor Aimee Kuhl confirmed that the City had granted permission for the mural to be painted.

Artist Cantal Ely in front of the mural.
Ivan and Sally Lotter’s dog, Flikka, died two years ago.
Dave Marriner’s dog, Charlie the spaniel, is painted on the side wall facing the quarry.
Doug Calverey’s border collie, Jessi, is pictured in the centre. Jessie was a show dog and obedience champion.
The dog mural at Spoon Street Park.