A DOG launching his own art exhibition is something out of the ordinary, but behind the quirky story is a serious message for Armidale youth.
Wonksy is a red cattle dog blessed with some extraordinary artistic talent, which was only discovered after he was rescued from an Armidale shelter seven years ago.
Guitarist, songwriter and comedian Simon Mellor and daughter Ava found Wonksy at the shelter in pretty bad shape.
The plucky pooch was involved in an accident that left him with missing teeth, a broken leg, a dislocated shoulder, and some brain damage, but the pair could see beyond that.
Wonksy is now proving an inspiration for young people facing challenges in life.
His first exhibition, Wonksy Unleashed, opened to an enthusiastic Armidale audience on Friday, June 17, at BackTrack's shed on the Grafton Rd.
It is really heartwarming to see that one formerly lost and damaged dog is helping lost, and damaged kids get back on track.Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall
It features an eclectic collection of works, many created by Wonksy's tongue and specially-formulated paint, but it's also helping put a spotlight on BackTrack's unique program which also uses dogs in its efforts to help troubled youth.
Magic Electricity Box, a company established by Simon and partner Irene Lemon, mounted the exhibition to promote creativity in all its artistic forms.
Both believe creative activities help address stress, anxiety and depression, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, who opened the exhibition, saying Wonksy was "joyfully symbolic of this phenomenon".
When he's not painting, Wonksy also performs with owner Simon, sometimes to audiences of children with disabilities who draw inspiration from him.
"It is really heartwarming to see that one formerly lost and damaged dog is helping lost, and damaged kids get back on track,"