From wild student parties to installing one of the regoin's most influential artworks, Tony Bond was quite controversial as the inaugural director of Wollongong Art Gallery and continues to make contentious comments.
He was at the helm of the gallery from its opening in 1978 to 1981. His ideas often clashed with then-Mayor Frank Arkell, and were especially evident when it came to modern conceptual art versus works by the Traditional Art Society (of which Arkell was a member).
"The purpose of a regional gallery is to bring to the people the best possible art - sure, from the community, but good stuff," Bond said.
His most controversial public legacy sits in MacCabe Park, just in front of the former gallery which is now the Youth Centre. The fanned steel structure, Nike, was commissioned from artist Ken Unsworth though mistaken to be a "celebration of American submarines by a small band of dedicated lefties".
"They read it as being about launching missiles or something which is not at all the idea," Bond said. "It wasn't, it was named after the winged goddess of victory ... and had nothing to do with American warships and submarines."
It was a challenge to win over the public, and the bureaucrats of the time, but he felt - and still does - that Nike was the best public artwork installed anywhere in Australia.
It celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, with a coinciding exhibition of Unsworth's marquettes and sculptures beginning Sunday July 28.
"I really had my job cut out to get the community behind the gallery," Bond said. "You really had to make them feel welcome, like they really belonged and that they could come and see you any time."
However, he did admit his style may have been a bit "riotess" at the time and put a few noses out of joint.
"We had very good parties, very inclusive - all kind was welcome," Bond said. "I'd have all the TAFE students and university students used to come; I had a whiskey sponsorship once that nearly killed everybody."
He also took pride in regularly inviting community and "service clubs" to art lectures - all part of an "inclusive" strategy which he believed "galvanised" the community's connection.
With plans for the future of the gallery currently up for public comment, Bond would love to see it more like the old days.
"Loosen up, make it more of a party event," he said, referring to exhibition openings.
"My successor - or somebody - decided, that they should have more exclusive and have dress up things and have the gallery society run it.
"They stopped inviting all the students and young artists, and I think the atmosphere changed quite a lot."
The public can meet Bond at the free opening of the Ken Unsworth Exhibition, which he curated, on Sunday July 28 at 1:30pm.
The exhibition runs until November 3, with free lectures by Bond and Unsworth on September 4 and 20.