Kate Jacoby and Ren Inei of Boom Gallery.  Artwork behind by Ren Inei.  Photograph by Sean Fennessy.

Boom Gallery cafe.  Lamps handmade on a shoestring – they’re glass shades (from the tip shop!), reo left over from the concrete bench, and recycled extension leads!  Photograph by Sean Fennessy.

Boom Gallery cafe.  ‘Rabbit Boy’ sculpture by Jeff Raglus (oil on Cypress).  Photograph by Sean Fennessy.

During our recent day trip to Geelong to produce our Geelong City Guide with Oh! Hello Geelong, we discovered Boom Gallery – a place that literally left us speechless (which is kind of a big deal – we talk A LOT!). Upon entering this part gallery / part retail space / part cafe it was 100% apparent that we needed to dedicate an entire post to Boom. There was just too much awesomeness going on.

What perhaps is even more incredible is the story behind Boom’s owners – business partners Ren Inei and Kate Jacoby – who dreamt up this concept and made it happen in eight months on a shoestring budget. Not that you could tell, mind you, since every minute interior detail has been executed to perfection.

Ren and Kate are both born and bred in Geelong, and have been friends since their teenage years.  The notion to open Boom was spurred after Ren had explored another old woollen mill in Geelong, which led to the light bulb moment – ‘Why not utilise one of these historic architectural treasures to house a gallery?’.  The logical next step was to partner with long time friend and creative collaborator Kate, to make this concept a reality.

Boom opened just last August in Newtown aka ‘the Toorak of Geelong on a mini-scale’ – as we were told by several locals (we concur).  There is so much goodness going on in this little pocket, positioned near the banks of the Barwon River. Kate and Ren describe the building that they converted as ‘a shell with a lot of promise’.   It was originally part of a larger woollen mill constructed for returned servicemen, but most recently was used as a candle factory.

You might imagine that the idea of removing decades of candle wax from concrete floors would deter some people.  Not these two!  The duo persevered, finally delivering a multi-purpose hub, divided into a retail space, contemporary art gallery and cafe that stocks and showcases the talents of local creatives from Geelong and surrounding areas. Seriously everything stocked at Boom has been thoughtfully considered, even the muesli bars and cakes sold at the cafe are baked by a local lady!

Ren and Kate intended for Boom to be an active, vibrant and inviting gallery space and  figure the addition of a coffee bar and design area could ‘inject that sort of life’.  Mission accomplished!  They also explain that one of the real bonuses of the business has come from the connections and relationships that have been formed by simply giving creative people a place to sit and talk. ‘Often we will have a few artists and designers in here just really enjoying the atmosphere, and the opportunity to share stories and ideas – now THAT is really awesome!’ says Kate. ‘The area is just so rich with a far greater breadth and depth of talent than we ever could have imagined – each week we are approached by new artists and designers seeking representation.’

Kate and Ren have also just taken over a warehouse down the road from here, which they’re developing into another collaborative workspace for local artists and designers.  AMAZINGLY, this new space will be affixed to another gallery and sculpture garden, set to open in the next few months. Now that’s some serious Geelong pride!

Boom’s latest exhibition ‘Works on Paper’ opens this Saturday from 2.00pm to 4.00pm.

Boom Gallery
11 Rutland St
Newtown
Geelong
VIC 3216

Paper-thin ceramics by Ichimu at Boom Gallery.  Photograph by Sean Fennessy.

Boom Gallery exterior.  Photograph by Sean Fennessy.