Makers & Growers
Speaking with multidisciplinary creative duo, David & Yuge Bromley, about what they’ve already achieved in Ballarat in such a short time, and what they’ve still got in store, you can’t help but get swept away with the excitement for what this might mean for the town’s next revolution.
First things first. Who are David & Yuge Bromley? Well, they’re lots of things. Just asking them what they do results in a discourse about their life’s journey and how they’ve ended up where they are today. They’re not people you can pigeonhole into one occupation. And that’s what makes them so special. They’re two extremely passionate and energetic artists with a thousand little creative adventures on the go at any one time.
Painting, sculpture, interiors, music, fashion, hospitality and so much more. Their lives are filled with it. It’s this eclectic connection to so many different things that underpin the riot of styles found in the collections at their Bromley & Co studios come retail spaces in Windsor, Daylesford and now Ballarat too.
But their connection to Ballarat goes much deeper than this. Sometime after relocating from sunny Byron to regional Victoria in 2014, they wanted to find a place where they could involve themselves in the community. Yuge remembers a friend of theirs introducing them to an old rundown pub that had been recently on and off the market.
Yuge was cautious at first. “I didn’t have a good baring of Ballarat at the time. I didn’t quite know in terms of the town where this was located and I just saw this big hulking pub with aluminum siding covering every window and I just went oh really?”
But her opinion soon changed. “I stepped one foot in the door and said, ‘David, I love it’.” David was equally excited. “Wine sodden cigarette butts still in glasses. Urine stained mattresses upstairs. And I just went ‘awesome’.”
The Pub With Two Names in the former Peter Lalor Hotel, aka the Royal Highlander, was born earlier this year, overflowing with the Bromley’s colourful signature style. Everywhere you look Bromley’s own nudes sit side-by-side with Warhol illustrations, hand painted walls and bronze statues. But no matter how unmistakably Bromley the aesthetic, it doesn’t go unnoticed the respect that’s been paid to the original building. It feels intrinsically Ballarat.
“We work a lot with old buildings. We like to not reinvent the wheel. David’s got a great respect for how buildings were built in the time they were built. And there’s a reason why they’ve survived for over 100 years.” Yuge explained.
The pub has been created for locals and visitors alike, with a 100-seat grill restaurant and bar, artist residence and The Stables events space, all run by Donatellos Ballarat hospitality group. Although talking with David and Yuge, you quickly get the feeling that this is just the start of things to come as they explain how they plan to invite their artist, designer and musician friends to play and create in the space.
I stepped one foot in the door and said, ‘David, I love it’.Yuge Bromley, Bromley & Co
“If we’re ever in a situation where we’re not rolling out a certain sort of cultural circus then we’re not doing our job properly.” David said.
For most of us, this sort of undertaking would be more than enough. But not for the Bromleys. At the time of the interview, David and Yuge had just been given the keys to another space in Bakery Hill, just five minutes up the road from the pub. As they showed us through the warehouse, an old mechanic workshop, their eyes lit up with opportunity. And you can’t help but get swept up in their energy and excitement. Their passion for the place is intoxicating.
“It’s like we’ve been privy to a secret. How amazing is this? How incredible is all this nature that surrounds us and yet all this productivity and movement and energy?” Yuge said.
David remembers something a friend had said to him once. “Ballarat’s a place that’s always got a story on its lips.” Something tells us that while he and Yuge are in town, that story is going to continue to twist and turn in ways that are as colourful and rich as ever.
The PWTN – also known as The Pub With Two Names – is incollaboration with the renowned artistic couple David and Yuge Bromley paying homage to the iconic building and former historic home of one of the first licensed hotel in the Ballarat CBD.