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Jen Boland

Learning Programmes Manager

Malcom Harrison's The Family is a longstanding favourite of many Dowse fans, not just because of the amusing stories accompanying each family member, but for the craftsmanship and detail that went into producing the dynasty. The Family has been in the collection for 25 years, but it wasn't until 2011 that the question was asked "what's inside the school bags worn by Bank and Lennox?" Up until this point the bags had never been opened and their contents never explored... 

Much speculation ensued around the bags' contents. When asked what was inside, Dowse Dee Club members came up with some very entertaining answers - instructions on how to do the cha cha, Miley Cyrus' hair clip, five sausages in tomato sauce, All Black figurines, the Statue of Liberty's torch, a snow globe of people cycling, dust, rubber bands for braces, an origami crane, wig, and toilet paper were just some of the guesses. 

While Dee Club and Dowse Educator Anna Rae eventually found out what the satchels contained, it remained a source of curiosity to Dowse Learning Programmes Manager Jen Boland, who was not present when the bags' contents were revealed. Jen made a beeline for the two family members when it came time to choose her favourite works, just so she could discover for herself what they had been carrying around the last quarter of a century.  

Bank might be one of the smallest members of the Family, but he carries an amazing amount of stuff in his Tardis-like bag. While the outside of his satchel is decorated with a tiny koala and gold pig, inside you'll find a motorcycle, kangaroo with joey in her pouch, pink turtle, bracelet with two Afghan hounds, a Scottie dog with an arching cat hanging from it, and a shoe that opens up to reveal an old lady and her children living inside. 

Lennox's bag, decorated with another koala, a fox brooch, and a carefully cut coin, holds a fine wooden box decorated with a donkey and an axe. Inside the box is a striped drawstring bag containing three dice, a black seed, and a white elephant. 

- Bev Eng, Collections and Touring Manager 

Said creator Malcom Harrison of these two: 

"Bank is a total terror. He is always finding frogs and worms, and those he doesn't give to his older brother he mixes in the baking." 

"Lennox is Thomas' oldest son who frightens Maia with frogs and worms whenever he can. He and his brother Bank are often in trouble."

Malcom Harrison

The Family, 1983–1987

wool, cotton, mother-of-pearl, metal, plastic, straw, dye, felt, plastic, alpaca wool blend, found objects.
Collection of The Dowse Art Museum