In conversation with Boom Gallery

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Teleisha Thomas

Teleisha Thomas

December 2023

Boom Gallery has been drawing visitors to Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula since 2011. The idea was born by locals and owners Ren Inei and Kate Jacoby, in response to a lack of dedicated arts spaces in the area. We sat down with Ren and Kate to discuss their selection process for exhibiting artists, what individual strengths they bring to running the gallery, and what is next for Boom. 

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Tell us about the vision you had and why you opened Boom Gallery in 2011.

The idea of starting up an art gallery was triggered by an open day in an old historic factory building before it became the home of Little Creatures here in Geelong. We could see the potential for showing art in a setting like this. Geelong at this time had many older industrial buildings ready for repurposing and we soon found our space within the old R.S & S Woollen Mills in Newtown. It’s a wonderful old building that has provided many opportunities for business growth.

Boom Gallery is more than a gallery, it houses multiple exhibition spaces, an artist-in-residence platform, a café, and a store selling handmade ceramics, jewellery, and more. What was the impetus for opening each of these spaces?

From the outset we really wanted to include a café and a design/object gallery as part of our business model. We figured that these would be a great way to encourage visitors into the broader gallery and in particular interact with our monthly exhibitions. We do sublet over 50 spaces, studios and offices which has helped to create a vibrant and dynamic creative community in Rutland Street. We have hosted a huge amount of functions and events over the years including artist talks, dinners, book launches, dance performances, design markets, etc. This has been great fun and a great way to add to the cultural fabric of Geelong. 

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The space in which Boom Gallery sits in Newtown is unique in its own right. Tell us about the Gallery’s home.

When we first opened in 2011 the zoning changed from industrial to mixed use. The impact of this change and the opportunities that the former industrial buildings in the street offered triggered quite a lot of development in the area. We love being a part of this creative precinct that has enabled a lot of very small businesses the chance to grow and prosper. We are on the banks of the Barwon River and just off the fabulous Pakington Street so it’s a fantastic place to be.

There are so many amazing artists and makers, how do you discern which of these artists will have the chance to exhibit at Boom Gallery?

Our first exhibition only included local artists that were known to us. Over the years as we have grown, our stable of regular artists includes many that live and work outside of Victoria. This mix of artists provides visitors to the gallery an opportunity to gain a broad snapshot of current contemporary arts practice across the country. We work with artists who have a vigorous and dedicated arts practice. We also only look to work with artists who are great to work with. Artists who are professional, friendly, organised and reliable. Like any good relationship we also try to act in this way towards them.

What is your personal history with Geelong?

We have both grown up in Geelong and love our region. Growing up here really does generate a passion for wanting to contribute to it in a positive way.

What do you love most about the area of Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula?

The location is amazing. We love our beautiful Corio Bay, our beaches and coastal towns. In Geelong we appreciate the diversity of our suburbs, each with their own unique character, attitude and identity. The people of our region are hard working, resilient and humble.

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Boom Gallery is run by duo Ren Inei and Kate Jacoby, what individual strengths do you bring to owning and running your spaces on Rutland Street?

Ren is the big picture person, a creative, problem solver and serves as a mentor / curator for our artists and exhibition programme. Kate is more detail oriented and oversees the day to day business administration, working closely with staff to create a dynamic and engaging environment for visitors to Boom.

What is next for Boom?

After 12 years in business Boom has needed to be agile and open to change, morphing and responding to an assortment of challenges and opportunities (this has been especially the case over the last few years). As a business we want to grow and evolve, both physically and conceptually - enriching the cultural fibre of Geelong. We look forward to continuing to work on behalf of some of Australia’s best artists and designers.

Rapid fire

An artist you’re loving right now? Adam Lee

Somewhere that inspires you? Port Fairy

Someone that inspires you? my children

Something you want to see more of in art and design? a local response - the redevelopment of Geelong Art Gallery

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Boom Gallery 11 Rutland Street, Newtown, VIC 3220

Opening Hours | Monday-Saturday 9.00am-4.00pm | Sunday 9.00am-3.00pm

Boom Gallery

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