Cheeky Dogs: to Lake Nash and Back
About the book
Meet deaf artist, Dion Beasley, and the people he calls family. Dodging road trains by day and giant blue monsters at night, Dion weaves his way through life on an electric scooter, collecting rocks and dogs to make art. In his dreams he sees animals from overseas and his mother's country, Lake Nash, but every morning, without fail, he puts on his favourite socks and gets ready to feed the dogs. Is it time yet?
About the authors
Dion Beasley is the story teller and illustrator of Cheeky Dogs. He lives in Tennant Creek and is well known across the Territory as the artist behind the much loved T-shirt brand, Cheeky Dogs. Dion's formal art career started in 2006 when the first Cheeky Dogs T- shirt line was launched. Since then, his reputation as an accomplished visual artist has grown from strength to strength. Dion's talents are particularly remarkable given he has muscular dystrophy and is profoundly deaf. In 2019 he received the Australia Council National Arts and Disability Award for an Emerging Artist.
Johanna Bell lives in Darwin with her partner, daughter and a backyard full of green tree frogs. Her writing career got off to a bumpy start when she was so busy composing a story in her head that she accidentally drove into the back of a taxi. It was while driving on a bumpy stretch of road outside Alice Springs that the beginnings of the Cheeky Dog books, took shape. Working with Dion has changed the way Johanna sees the world and tells stories. Johanna and Dion's books include 'Too Many Cheeky Dogs' and 'Go Home Cheeky Animals'.
'Cheeky Dogs: To Lake Nash and Back' is the memoir of Dion Beasley, a First Nations artist and author with profound deafness and muscular dystrophy, who tells the story of his childhood and youth in terms of the dogs that populated it. Camp dogs are ubiquitous in the author's life, whether in actuality, or on paper, and in 'Cheeky Dogs' they are as conspicuous by their presence as by their absence. Beasley describes in tangible detail the antics of dogs in packs, dogs alone, dogs as companions, dogs as attackers and dogs as art. As a child, Beasley is moved from place to place, home to home, family to family, town to town, but dogs held his life together, and dogs hold this narrative together.
'Cheeky Dogs' leaps back and forth through time, sometimes describing a moment in early childhood, then covering several changes of residence in a few brief lines, then looking back at an even earlier childhood memory. Beasley plays with form and content, beguiling the reader into a new way of seeing his world. Through verbal and visual repetition, vibrantly energetic naïve artwork, onomatopoeia, and simple, straightforward prose, the author weaves a sense of spontaneous immediacy as he records terror, warmth, excitement, grief, toothache. Broad overviews alternate with tiny details, such as the sight and smell—but not the sound—of rain on the roof as he, a small child, is stitched together after being mauled by dogs. The illustrations are a seamless cohesion of multi-media pieces, each an outstanding example of vibrant 'outsider' art, rendered with freshness and spirit, power and cohesion to offer delight and revelation with each turn of the page.