Wombarra Sculpture Garden set to close with many works now on sale

After 21 years world-renowned artist Gaby (Gaye) Porter is finally saying goodbye to the Illawarra and leaving many of her sculptures behind.

Porter and her partner have sold their seven-acre property, including the Wombarra Sculpture Garden, due to ill health. It follows two previous attempts to sell but the pair pulled out because they “couldn’t bare to leave”.

“I’ve got quite advanced glaucoma, I’m limited in the garden – maintaining it – and at 75 I feel I’d really quite like to be closer to my family [on the Central Coast],” Porter said. “It is sad because it’s such a fabulous community down here.”

Around 90 artworks of wood, bronze, ceramics, clay and mosaic have been part of the garden and the small gallery at the property –many of which are finding new homes.

I’ve done so many sculptures down here, it feels wonderful to have my babies around the place.

Gaby Porter

Porter’s largest carving ever produced, the 4.5 tonne Genesis, has been gifted to the University of Wollongong and will be installed near the duck pond.

A 400 kilogram group project titled Shellpod has been gifted to Wollongong City Council and is set to be installed at the southern end of Sharkeys Beach at Coledale later in the month.

“The Shellpod will be a further addition to Council’s public art in the city,” said a council spokesman. “It will also add ambience for those people who visit Sharkeys Beach or people who might walk past on the popular pathway.”

Gaby Porter with Shellpod (left) and Genesis (right). Both will remain for public viewing at Sharkeys and UOW. Picture: Adam McLean

Gaby Porter with Shellpod (left) and Genesis (right). Both will remain for public viewing at Sharkeys and UOW. Picture: Adam McLean

Porter will take as many of the sculptures she can with her and leave around a dozen large works to the new owners, while others are available for sale.

“I’ve done so many sculptures down here, it feels wonderful to have my babies around the place,” the artist said.

“It is terribly sad, which is why we’ve pulled the plug the other few times … but this time feels right.”

Since Porter opened her garden by appointment it has hosted weddings, parties and concerts. She said it’s unlikely the new owners will keep it open for public viewing.

Porter has created commissioned sculptures for cities around the world including Wiseman’s Ferry, Pymble, Kuching in Borneo, Queensland, Crown Casino in Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, and a bronze coal miner in Helensburgh.

Wombarra Sculpture Garden remains open for the month of June by appointment only, phone (02) 4268 2695.