First published in The Age on September 17, 1996

Doggone! Larry’s back

Melbourne’s version of Lassie Come Home unfolded yesterday in the City Square with the unveiling of a replica of the stolen sculpture Larry La Trobe.

Larry La Trobe returns to City Square in 1996.Credit:Ray Kennedy

The duplicate, cast in bronze from the original mould by Melbourne artist Ms Pamela Irving, has been anchored in place by 30-centimetre bolts.

After the unveiling, Ms Irving said that when she heard Larry had been stolen about a year ago she was initially amused because she thought it was a joke and he would be returned. “As the time went on I was pretty devastated,” Ms Irving said.

Unlike the other great Melbourne art heist, the Picasso theft, the artist has not heard anything about Larry’s fate. “I know a lot of people in art circles and I have not heard any whispers,” she said.

The mythological little mutt was loosely based on Ms Irving’s dog, Lucy, and her uncle, Larry.

“I have done a lot of mythological animals and I just thought to put a dog in the City Square was a good thing.

“It relates to all the stories about Australia, the poetry, the books and so on… The Drover’s Dog and The Dog on the Tucker Box. My work is a bit off-beat, whimsical, funky kind of stuff anyway.”

Ms Irving has created other public sculptures including a bull for Melbourne University and a dog in a Caulfield park.

On hearing of the theft, Mr Peter Kolliner, who had owned the Artworks in Bronze foundry where Larry was first cast, offered to pay for a new casting.

Despite being secured with 30 cm bolts, the original Larry La Trobe was stolen overnight on August 30/31, 1995. The sculpture was never recovered and no one has been charged with its theft.

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