NYE13 Creative Ambassador Reg Mombassa biography

NYE13 Creative Ambassador Reg Mombassa biography

Reg Mombassa is the pseudonym of Christopher O’Doherty, one of Australia’s best-loved musicians and artists, and one of the country’s finest cultural exports.

The 61-year-old was a founding member of pop-rock band, Mental as Anything, which released numerous chart hits and was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2009.

Reg left the Mentals in 2000 to focus on Dog Trumpet, the band he began with brother, Peter O’Doherty, in 1990. Dog Trumpet has released five albums and two EPs to critical acclaim and a new album, Medicated Spirits, will be launched in August this year.

Reg’s artworks are held in many private and public collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of NSW, Museum Victoria, Powerhouse Museum and ArtBank.

He has been a finalist for the Archibald, Sulman and Dobell prizes and his work has been shown around the world, including in New Zealand, the UK, France, Italy, China and Thailand.

Reg held his first painting exhibition at Watters Gallery in 1975 and has since been involved in more than 30 exhibitions with the East Sydney gallery, both under the names Christopher O’Doherty and Reg Mombassa.

A new show, Hallucinatory Anthropomorphism … Semi-Abstract Paraphysical Manifestations of the Collective Unconscious, includes work created for NYE13 and will open at Watters Gallery on 19 June.

Reg is also known around the world for his distinctive and provocative T-shirt and poster designs for Mambo clothing, whom he began working for in 1986.

In 2000, his artworks were seen by millions of people worldwide when he created a collection of large inflatable characters for the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics.

In 2006, Smart Street Films released a documentary about Reg, Golden Sandals, and in 2009, Harper Collins published the definitive biography, The Mind and Times of Reg Mombassa, by Murray Waldren.

He is married to Martina Woodburne and the couple have three children.



Born 14 August in Auckland, New Zealand.

Educated at Westlake Boys High School.


Migrates to Australia and settles with his family on Sydney’s northern beaches.


Commences studies at the National Art School, Darlinghurst.


Abandons studies after two years after becoming disillusioned with the course. Works as builder’s labourer, cleaner, house painter and driver before re-enroling as an art student.


Continues studies and graduates from the National Art School with a Diploma of Painting.


Meets Martina Woodburne at an election party in Surry Hills.

Work is shown in first group exhibition at Watters Gallery, East Sydney.


Forms Mental as Anything with four other art students Martin Plaza, Greedy Smith, David Twohill and Stephen Coburn.


Son Darcy born.


Marries Martina Woodburne.


Daughter Claudia born.


Begins work as a freelancer designing T-shirts and posters for Mambo.

Daughter Lucy born.


Forms band Dog Trumpet with brother, Peter O’Doherty.

First exhibition with Mambo at Ray Hughes Gallery, Surry Hills.


Major touring show, Art Irritates Life, with Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.

Mambo Graphics publishes The Mambo Picture Book of Wisdom and Art Irritates Life.


His ‘Real Wild Child’ exhibition poster, commissioned by Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, wins first prize in the American Association of Museums 1995 design competition poster category.


ARIA Award for Best Australian Cover Art for Mental as Anything’s Liar, Liar Pants on Fire.


Mambo Graphics publishes Still life with Franchise.


Commissioned by Sydney Olympics to design Heroes segment for the Closing Ceremony, with six huge inflatable figures. Designs also appear on athletes’ shirts during the ceremony.

Designs poster for the 2000 Paralympics Art Festival.


Contributes section to the Federation Tapestry, installed at Melbourne Museum.

Creates Snake flag for The Mambo Flags project at Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.


Weekly illustrated column is published for a year in The Daily Telegraph.


Plays role of ‘Gypsy Artist’ in Love’s Brother, written and directed by Jan Sardi.


Real Wild Child is reproduced for the Australian Rock Posters stamp edition by Australia Post. Art on Foam, a touring exhibition of painted surfboards by 18 artists at four venues in France.


Thirty-year survey show, The Art of Chris O’Doherty a.k.a. Reg Mombassa, at S.H. Ervin Gallery is officially opened by actor Jack Thompson.

Designs five stamps for Australia Post’s Big Things series.

Designs a set of coins for the Royal Australian Mint’s Australian Artist series.

A commemorative tone poem of surprising delicacy, is included in The Best Australian Poetry of 2006, edited by John Tranter and published by UQP.


Dog Trumpet plays and art on show at Festival for Art Lovers and Artists, Bangalow, NSW.

Solo show at Spacejunk Gallery in Bayonne and two other French galleries.


The Mind and Times of Reg Mombassa, by Murray Waldren, is published by Harper Collins.

Mental as Anything is inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame.


Speaks at Semi-Permanent conference in Sydney and Brisbane.

Finalist in Dobell Prize for drawing.

Fifteen works exhibited in Les Enfants Terrible show at the Lyon Biennale.


Harper Collins publishes Cranium Universe e-book of poetry, songs, pictures and interviews.


Appointed Creative Ambassador for 2013 Sydney New Year’s Eve.


For more information, visit sydneynewyearseve.com/media-centre

For media enquiries or images, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Jodie Minus, phone 0467 803 815 or email jminus@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au