A brilliant career, Gomboc style
Published on 07 June 2018
Forging an internationally recognised artistic career was the furthest thing from sculptor Ron Gomboc’s mind when he and his wife, Terrie, decided in 1980 to sell their Bellevue woodworking and construction business and change the course of their lives.
But when you look back at their 38-year journey, it’s obvious that their creativity, passion and sheer hard work made such amazing success inevitable.
Gomboc Gallery Sculpture Park was the fruit of their life-changing decision.
It is not only the public face of their artistic and entrepreneurial success, but also the pulse of this talented and indomitable couple.
Established by the Gombocs in 1982, the park is largely self-built, entirely self-funded, and is one of the oldest privately owned galleries in WA.
It sits on 4.5 beautiful hectares in the Swan Valley.
Both the grounds, with their tall trees and winding paths, and the five-roomed gallery, with its lofty spaces and beautiful quality of light, are perfect for displaying the large-scale sculptures that are a Ron Gomboc trademark, as well as work from a host of talented and emerging artists of all disciplines from around the world.
Adjoining the gallery there is also a very impressive foundry where Ron casts not only his own sculptures, but those of other artists.
As a team, the Gombocs are gregarious, frank, funny and very much in tune with each other (“We’ve worked together for so long, we’re practically attached at the hip!” Ron said of his wife of 49 years).
As individuals, they redefine the words “generous” and “remarkable”.
Ron has exhibited his sculptures all over the world, from Singapore to Slovenia and Paris to Beijing.
He has also won a plethora of art and community awards, including a WA Citizen of the Year Award for Arts, Culture and Entertainment in 1993 and the Centenary of Federation Medal in 2003 for outstanding commitment to the community in raising the awareness of art.
Also in 2003 he and his wife were awarded the 10th Anniversary Commemorative Lifetime Commitment Award by the then Minister For Culture and the Arts, Sheila McHale MLA.
In 2011 Ron was commissioned to design Australia’s own Oscar (AACTA) - the statuette for the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards.
And his commitment to Sculptures by the Sea is the stuff of legend. He is the only Australian sculptor to exhibit his work at all exhibitions in Cottesloe, 19 Bondi.
But despite all the accolades, Ron Gomboc insists most of his success is down to his wife.
“I don’t know where I’d be or what I’d be doing if it wasn’t for Terrie,” he said.
“Maybe I’d still be involved in art but not to the extent I am now. I couldn’t have got where I am without her.
“Believe me, dealing with artists is a bloody nightmare but she has supported me through everything and the only way this has been successful is through her.”
Terrie’s ongoing commitment to her husband and their gallery and her four decades of supporting and mentoring almost 1300 national and international sculptors was recognised in March this year when she was inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame for her contribution to the arts and culture of WA.
Terrie is the engine room of the gallery – a top-class organiser, self-taught arts administrator and tireless worker who, like her husband, is passionate about supporting artists and sculptors, both at home and through national and international cultural exchange.
They have also from the very beginning, she said, recognised the importance of fostering emerging artists and students.
“We provide gallery and exhibition space,” she said, “but also – and I think this is so important – we try to nurture the person as well as their talent.”
At the moment, the couple’s boundless energies are being directed towards their annual Sculpture Survey Exhibition, which opens on June 10.
2018 marks the 35th anniversary of the event, a prestigious one that attracts sculptors from all over the world and encourages students from tertiary institutions to participate.
This year, in yet another display of their legendary generosity, the couple will be accommodating free of charge four artists from Taiwan in purpose-built rooms above the gallery.
The work and logistics involved in organising such an exhibition is tremendous and begs the question do Ron and Terrie Gomboc, aged 70 and 69 respectively, ever plan to stop?
“Oh no,” Terrie said. “He can’t retire. He’d die if he retired. Because this is what he HAS to do.”
“You know,” Ron said, “a sculptor from Singapore came here and couldn’t believe that just two people own this place, run it, finance it, cut the grass!
“But so many galleries in Perth have closed.
“And we have proven through our passion for sculpture and through opening doors to students that you can keep going.
“So the answer is no - I don’t want to get out. We made a commitment.”