‘I was a quintessential Asian nerd, with my backpack weighing at least half my body!’ begins Yuge Bromley. Born in Beijing, China, she grew up in Wellington, New Zealand, where she admits that she did, in fact, adore studying. She was encouraged to pursue law, accounting or medicine, and decided on law, practising for many years in Melbourne. ‘My path has taken all sorts of twists and directions, nothing surprises me and takes me off guard,’ she tells. ‘I feel that anything really is possible if you know you want to achieve it.’
A big part of Yuge’s pivot occurred when acclaimed artist David Bromley stepped into her life. They had first crossed paths many years ago through a mutual friend, though two years passed before they were brought back together again. Eight years on, and the couple now has two daughters, a thriving brand and chain of galleries, Bromley & Co., quite literally, to their name.
Five-and-a-half years ago, Yuge launched her eponymous fashion label, Yuge Yu. While she didn’t leave law disliking it – loving it actually! – following a more creative path has led to great happiness and fulfilment. ‘By watching and being immersed in the creative world that David utterly surrounds himself in, I segued into this creative path, with his encouragement, He would often comment on some creative outfit I had made,’ she recalls. ‘He really sparked me thinking about what my life and career could be; I had always had that passion for designing fashion, but I’d never given it the space to be at the forefront until then.’
The slightly younger Bromley & Co. brand has been around since 2014. ‘David never wanted to start a retail offering in his name independently, but one day he said to me, “You are a Bromley now too, so why don’t we do it!” And, so, that spawned our gallery/shop/retail/space (we still don’t know what to call them!),’ explains Yuge. The pair’s business venture has been quite remarkable, pushing beyond what is seen as a single artist’s pursuit. It has opened them up to a huge variety of projects, from installing sculptures at the new Avalon International Airport last week, to working on a unique residential development in Brisbane intertwined with parks, an eatery and gallery last month.
Then there’s Ballarat: the Bromley’s new long-term half-the-time home, and the city of The Pub With Two Names. ‘It’s fantastic because it is kind of like being in the country, but you have all the city amenities you could ever imagine – it’s a really great mix of the two,’ explains Yuge.
After being introduced to this gold-rush gold mine two years ago while researching schools for their daughter, the pair encountered the old Peter Lalor Hotel on the corner of Mair and Doveton Streets. Though initially scrunching her nose up at the place, on first walk-in both Yuge and David, knew it was for them. Following a staggering renovation, they nine month’s ago handed the establishment over to operators Donatello and Irene, who open for lunch and dinner daily, as well as host events and functions in The Stables (original, but contemporised via an amazing fit-out!). The Pub joins a little Bromley & Co. gallery, which is ‘set up a bit like a jewellery box, lovely and meandering, yet still with space to hang some big, spectacular artworks’. The Bromleys stay upstairs, when they aren’t at their Melbourne or Daylesford homes.
Funnily enough, on a weekend morning, you’ll probably find Yuge, David and their young daughters at The Pub! ‘We’ll be there having our two breakfasts, then two lunches, and even dinner!’ jokes Yuge, who also loves walking Mair and Sturt Streets to admire the architecture. ‘Although we’ve been around for a little while, we are still exploring – always taking the long road out of this beautiful town and a different route each time!’
Stay tuned for an exciting new venture the Bromleys will be opening in Ballarat in the new year. To find out more about the wide creative movement unfolding in the city and to experience Ballarat’s craftsmanship for yourself, visit madeofballarat.com.au.
The Pub With Two Names + Bromley & Co. Gallery
331 Mair Street
Daily, 11:30am – 9pm (10pm on Saturday and Sunday)