Terrie Gomboc’s special award a reward for hard work and innovation

TERRIE Gomboc, the woman behind the Gomboc Gallery Sculpture Park in Middle Swan, says it was quite a humbling experience to be chosen as one of 14 respected West Australians to be inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame.

“It was also rewarding to realise that someone had thought that what I have done for so many years was worthwhile enough to nominate me,” she said. “But I don’t feel that it has changed me. I am still the same person, passionate about promoting cultural awareness locally and forging relationships from all over the world.”

Terrie and husband Ron, a renowned sculptor, have run the Sculpture Park for 38 years, Ron’s inspiring sculptures receiving accolades around the world in a 47-year career. For all that time, Terrie has been at his side, giving support and forging her own path in the arts world.

“My involvement in supporting and fostering arts in WA goes back much further than when the Sculpture Park started in 1980 and we purchased land in Middle Swan. In the early 70s we had a bronze casting facility that provided assistance to other artists and we often had artists in residence.

“In 1980 it became much bigger and more formalised.  I never envisaged that the gallery would become as important as it has been with student involvement and ongoing cultural exchanges on a national and international scale.”

Terrie said that from the early 70s sculpture in Perth was not presented to the public with only a few annual exhibitions by a small group.

“We changed that by opening the gallery, sculpture park and workshop-foundry facilities and staging numerous sculpture exhibitions of individual artists and, most importantly, our annual sculpture survey exhibition. This year will be the 35th year and everything has been free to the public from the start.”

Terrie said that from the beginning the gallery has been managed by herself without any regular help. This involved handling all the clerical work, as well as maintaining the building and its surrounds. Although the gallery was closed to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays there was still much work to do – book work and record keeping, and everything else necessary for the gallery to open five days a week.

“So all my weekends are tied up. Normally we close the gallery around Christmas Eve through January but although it is closed we don’t often travel away, we are still there doing all the maintenance indoors and outdoors.

“Our gallery is no different to other galleries in Perth that have already closed through lack of sales income. From the beginning, our gallery has been totally funded by us, mainly through irregular income from Ron’s commission work.

“We have never received any financial assistance from elsewhere, either government or private. We are quite unique in the history of sculpture, there has been no precedence of an artist creating a venue such as this and funding it.

As for the future, Terrie says she and Ron are uncertain, keeping in mind they are both aged 70.

“That said, we are not planning to move from here or close.”

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Josephine Allison started her career in journalism at 18 as a cadet on the Geraldton Guardian newspaper. She realised her ambition to work on a daily newspaper when she later joined The West Australian where she spent almost 34 years covering everything from police courts to parliament, general news, the arts and real estate. After moving on from The West, she worked on several government short-term media contracts and part-time at a newspaper in Midland before joining Have a Go News in 2012. These days she enjoys writing about interesting people from various fields, often unsung heroes who have helped make WA a better place.