Bromley: Light After Dark – David & Yuge Bromley and Director Sean McDonald Chat About Creating a Space for Open Vulnerability in This Interview

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Every so often a presence swirls into our lives in an unexpected manner and changes it just a little bit. For many Australians, whether they be wealthy or not-so-wealthy, that presence is David Bromley. Here is a celebrated artist whose work features on the walls of galleries and private art collectors, while the same artwork adorns cologne labels, reusable water bottles, and more.

As mentioned in Sean McDonald’s raucous and energetic documentary Bromley: Light After Dark, in Australian cinemas from today, David’s work gives people hope, and hope is not something that should be restrained for those who want to access it by how much money is in your bank account. What this means for Bromley as an artist is that his work is everywhere. His critics would say he’s overproduced and mass marketed, while his supporters – myself being one of them – would say that he’s making high art accessible to all.

Either way you look at it, a David Bromley art piece is a slice of his personality, and through Bromley: Light After Dark that we get to see that personality writ large on the cinema screen. Here is a person that’s larger than life, full of energy, and supported by a loving family who champion his work and give his mind the space to be what it is: an ever roaming, occassionally anxious, place of darkness that, thanks to a wealth of soul-searching and self-realisation, has been splashed with enough bright paint that it has become a source of lightness and joy. It is, quite simply, the light after dark.

There’s an openness and a frankness to David Bromley as a person that encourages people in his orbit – and that includes the audience watching this documentary – to feel ok about sharing who they are as people. Watching Bromley: Light After Dark made my partner and I feel seen in an way that precious few films have made us feel. In one sequence, David and his wife Yuge drive a roller over his artwork to create a weathered aesthetic. It’s one of the many moments that show creativity let loose. It’s bloody energetic and entertaining, and it’s done by two people who love and support each other in their creative endeavours.

In another moment, one that creates a strong emotional resonance, shows David talking to statues that he’s created for his mother, father, and brother who have all passed. It’s a personal moment that cracks open who David is as a person. He is someone with vulnerabilities. He has endured pain and trauma in his life. But through that pain and trauma there is positivity and hope.

Sean McDonald eagerly gives both David and Yuge the space to exist on screen without judgement. Sure, Bromley’s critics do get a moment to voice their concerns, frustrations, or displeasure at the quality of David’s art or the way he conducts himself, but so do his greatest supporters, each of whom provides a welcome perspective of who he is as a person. He is a weathered a worn individual, with the furrows in his brow being the result of decades of creativity and concern, often at the same time.

Thanks to the work that I do with The Curb, I get to chat or write about the plentiful creative minds that exist within Australia. I’m always in awe of their creative spirit, and how people manage to express themselves in a country that sometimes willfully rejects creativity. For creative souls, there is a need to pour yourself into your work, and that need comes with a wealth of vulnerability. Allowing the melding of a creative mind like a documentarian to play with that vulnerability amplifies that openness even more. It’s that line of questioning which I put forward to Sean McDonald, David and Yuge Bromley in the following interview.

As you’ll hear, giving David a brief questions opens up a well of ideas and possibly responses. There is a level of generosity that comes with his answers, and I’m grateful that I was able to discuss his work with him.

The following interview was recorded on the day of the Optus outage, so there are some occassional audio blips, but the essence of the discussion is still there. I begin by talking about the film with Sean, followed by the arrival of David who brings his own perspectives.

Bromley: Light After Dark is cinemas from today and deserves to be seen on the big screen.

Andrew F Peirce

Andrew is passionate about Australian cinema, Australian politics, Australian culture, and Australia in general. Found regularly talking online about Sweet Country, and reminding people to watch Young Adult.

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