Collaboration. It’s at the heart of everything David Bromley does.
Perhaps best known for his art depicting small childhood imaginings and bright street-mural-esque female nudes, the 56-year-old Victorian-based painter’s appetite for working with others has led to a career that has spilled out into much broader spaces.
Something of a go-to guy for corporate Australia, Bromley has produced restaurant settings and design elements for some of the country’s most well-known brands, including sculptures for Dinner by Heston, label art for Wolf Blass and concept stores for Kookai.
These days his scope includes large-scale work for shopping centres, parks and major developments. He and his wife and collaborator, Yuge Bromley, are now well known for “treating environments as a canvas”.
Bromley insists he’s “just a painter” at heart, but it’s his more recent role as an art director and something of a cultural facilitator that have seen he and Yuge make a temporary home in Brisbane working on West Village, Sekisui House’s extensive residential development on Boundary Street in West End.
Technically, the role for West Village is to oversee the production of creative spaces alongside apartment and retail development. “We’re trying to do that at the same time as build a strong cultural resonance,” he says. So while he and Yuge are picking out colours and light fixtures, they’re also busy building relationships. “We’ve been having talks with the Queensland Ballet and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and then we’ve brought [in] a few artists that we really love.”
Bromley reckons working on these projects allows for lengthy discussions with a diverse bunch of people, from a “lime grower in Toowoomba to Catherine Ball”, Telstra Queensland’s 2015 Businesswoman of the Year. He’s seen street artists bond with developers over art and culture. It’s these interactions that in Bromley’s view make for meaningful societies. “The more conversations we’re having, the more interesting things that [we] are building,” he says. “We’d like to do these kinds of happenings with music, theatre, with dancers and with painters and sculptors.”
West End has an iconoclastic community that’s protective of its diversity and inclusiveness. Bromley says he’s wary of the culture and history that already exists in the area. “Our intentions are very authentic in regards to a cultural immersion,” he says. “We spent periods living in a big tent in one of the warehouses and just working all day and night, so you know we’re in there doing our best for culture.”
To get the most out of Bromley’s extended presence in Brisbane, West Village has established a studio space for the artist’s collective, Bromley & Co, inside the old Peters Ice Cream Factory. Over a series of six exhibitions throughout the year, the space is showcasing a range of work from Bromley, his wife Yuge and their friends and collaborators.
The second exhibition is this weekend. Artists on display include *Lucks, a local street artist the couple is mentoring; Angus O’Callaghan, the 93-year-old Melbourne photographer showing shots of Australia from the 1960s and ’70s; and Sokquon Tran, the Cambodian-born artist who will present a series of cityscapes. In typical Bromley style, sculptures and furniture pieces will feature alongside the artworks.
A mentorship program is running with the yearlong residency; Bromley takes on artists he feels an affinity towards. “I like people who get past political constructs and who are maybe a little bit earthier,” he says. “They’re the people who’ve just got it, a twinkle in their eye, a child-like approach to their work, they’re not jaded – an ‘every day’s a new day’ sort of person.”
Catch the work of Bromley & Co at a free exhibition in the Bromley Room, West Village, 97 Boundary Street, West End, this Saturday June 17 and Sunday June 18, 10am to 5pm.