"(It's) the scale, the oddity, the colour, and it's got a personality."
Art Gallery of Ballarat representative Peter Freund is a big fan of Pearl dog, the three-metre tall sculpture standing guard in the central McCain Hall.
It's the feature work of the gallery's summer exhibition, Dark horse: Wild beasts and curious creatures, a deep-dive into the gallery's extensive collection which celebrates human interaction with animals, in all its forms - from food to friends to fears.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: Man oh man, what an art exhibition: Geoff Bonney in Learmonth
Artist Geoff Bonney, based in Learmonth, said creating the sculpture was a challenge.
"I built this dog, Pearl Dog, from a very small pearl dog I bought for my daughter many years ago," he said.
"There's the mother dog, then a small one coming - a mother and pup."
He said he was able to collaborate with an engineering firm, Asema Engineering, to build the armature and hold the plastic spheres together.
"I've taken the problem to them," he said.
"I said it's got to be sewn together, they said you can't sew it together, the balls will smash up, so they made an armature, and that's got a bit of nicety to it."
Inside, there's everything from propaganda posters to huge Japanese incense burners.
There's also sketches on display that do not get brought out of the archives very often, to ensure they don't deteriorate.
Mr Freund said the aim of the exhibition, as well as exploring the collection, was to engage with people and provoke discussion.
"We're really hoping Ballarat will come and celebrate animals and art with us this summer," he said.
"We found already it's a show that particularly kids respond to really well.
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"In this case, we've bought a couple of works specifically to put into the exhibition, so it's an opportunity for us to explore the collection ourselves, to add to it, to see how we might want to increase the collection."
The gallery will run school holiday programs in January, with the big summer launch on December 14.
Mr Bonney said to keep an eye out for his other works launching soon at the gallery, including a twist on pangrams.
Dark horse: Wild beasts and curious creatures is free, and runs until February 23.
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