This story appeared in edition 16 of Mid North Coast Now, you can read the full issue by clicking here
The little seaside village of Urunga is undergoing some exciting, cosmetic changes.
Thanks to a grant from NSW Department of Trade and Industry, via Bellingen Shire Council, cartoonist and print maker Dave Bromley has been commissioned to create a mural in the heart of the town.
Dave’s idea of creating a ‘trompe-l’œil’* of a row of three shopfronts dating back to the early part of the last century, was selected … and he is now a regular sight in the main street, brush in hand.
* trompe-l’œil: a French term meaning ‘mistake the eye’.
“It is definitely a work-in-progress … wherever possible I am including real people from around here, like Herbie, to bring the scenes alive. Some of the Aboriginal elders and their family will also make an appearance,” Dave said.
So for now, it’s watch this space … or rather, drop into Urunga on your trips north or south and have a look!
But Dave’s artistic life stretches way beyond the mural in Urunga ...
Born in West London, he spent his childhood in Sierra Leone, London, Gulgong and Mudgee.
After school he studied architecture but found it was not really his scene. Lured into cartoons through University newspapers, at the age of 19 he was given a few spots as an illustrator on the Nation Review … that led to the National Times, a Fairfax publication, and the Sydney Morning Herald.
Dave says those days at the National Times were particularly interesting.
“The paper was exposing police and State Government corruption. Roger Rogerson and Neddy Smith starred among a string of others.
“David Marr was editor, briefly, and then Brian Toohey. We had legendary long lunches, often in Glebe Point Road or The Sri Lanka Room in a pub near Central.”
A high point was the 1988 Bicentennial for which Dave illustrated the Sydney Morning Herald’s wrap around cover.
“All the papers had sold out very early in the morning and they started the presses three times though-out the day to keep up with the demand.
“I had no idea at the time as I was a guest of the Royal Australian Navy on board the Young Endeavour on Sydney Harbour.”
The following year Dave headed to London “to make my CV look interesting”.
Once there he was quickly in demand from all the major newspaper including The Times, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph and The Financial Times.
“I ended up staying for 19 years.
“I mainly worked for the Financial Times among a cohort of very talented, clever colleagues …. they were the cream from Oxford and Cambridge.”
In 2008 he returned to Australia, along with his wife and 200 crates including two printing presses, two cats, a motorbike and a classic Mercedes.
He settled near Urunga where he now has a printmaking and painting studio.
“I fell in love with wood engraving – the tools are the same as they were 300 years ago – I still use a lozenge graver, a spitsticker, scorper, tint tool, sandbag and an Arkansas oilstone for sharpening.” Dave continues to exhibit and enter his work into international competitions; his name is listed at the Royal Society of Painter and Engravers in London.
The paper was exposing police and State Government corruption. Roger Rogerson and Neddy Smith starred among a string of othersDave Bromley
About the cartoon above : “When the Paris attacks happened in November 2015 I was deeply shocked and heartbroken. I missed being in a newspaper newsroom and being able to respond with an illustration, so I did one anyway.
“I came up with the idea of the world as a spiked globe on a chain, the little metal Eiffel Towers being the spikes.
“I drew this as a medieval weapon called a flail. It is drawn on a computer, although it looks like watercolour and coloured pencil. It is a favourite of mine.”