Mys­te­ri­ous Ball trib­ute ap­pears in park


A paint­ing of car­toon­ist Mur­ray Ball’s leg­endary Dog char­ac­ter from Footrot Flats has ap­peared at an Auck­land dog park.

Ball died on Sun­day aged 78 af­ter suf­fer­ing from Alzheimer’s.

Since then a piece of graf­fiti art show­ing a sad look­ing Dog gaz­ing up at a lone star ap­peared on the side of a wa­ter reser­voir at Big King Re­serve in Three Kings.

The trib­ute is fit­ting given the park is dog friendly with an of­fleash ex­er­cise area.

The painter re­spon­si­ble, who wanted to re­main anony­mous, said he grew up with Footrot Flats and ‘‘shed a tear’’ while paint­ing it.

How­ever, be­cause the reser­voir was man­aged by Auck­land Coun­cil or­gan­i­sa­tion Water­care, he ac­cepted that the paint­ing may not be there long.

He was in­stead treat­ing it in the same way some­one would put ’’flow­ers on a grave’’.

The same artist was be­hind a grumpy cat mu­ral which ap­peared on the reser­voir in 2012 but was painted over by Water­care about six months af­ter it went up.

The artist reg­u­larly painted on the struc­ture and has said he liked to make his neigh­bour­hood look more in­ter­est­ing.

Three Kings res­i­dent and bor­der col­lie owner Grant Bayl­don said he was im­pressed with the trib­ute. He said it was fit­ting given the area used to be farmed, a his­tory which in­volves bor­der col­lie dogs. ‘‘The way the dog is look­ing up into the sky, it’s a great trib­ute to Mur­ray Ball who has been an im­por­tant part of New Zealand cul­tural his­tory,’’ Bayl­don said.

He said he was a fan of the grumpy cat piece as well and felt that it de­terred tag­ging, rather than en­cour­aged it.

‘‘The cat was just beau­ti­ful it was look­ing down grumpily at the nor­mally dozens of dogs play­ing un­der­neath it,’’ Bayl­don said.

‘‘My feel­ing is this im­proves the vis­ual ap­peal of the area.’’

Peter Row­ley, the man who voiced the dog in Footrot Flats, said the late car­toon­ist was ‘‘a bloody ge­nius’’. ‘‘He formed all these won­der­ful char­ac­ters, and gave an edge to the agrar­ian world of New Zealand that only he could imag­ine,’’ Row­ley said. ‘‘He was a very charis­matic man, and was quite sure of ev­ery­thing. I had a lot of re­spect for him - he was like (Charles) Schulz with Peanuts, you know? You felt his pres­ence - he was unique for this coun­try. There weren’t many Mur­ray Balls.’’

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