Metal to murals with Garry Purchase

Metal to murals with Garry Purchase

With its creative pull, many artists are relocating to the Central Coast to experience natural landscapes and cultural significance to kickstart their new lifestyle.
Garry Purchase
Aboriginal artist, Kariong

Garry is an Aboriginal artist of proud Dharawal, Bidjigal and Dhungutti descent. Recently a finalist in the Gosford Art Prize, he only discovered his love and talent for painting a few years ago! The former musician who has a passion for rock and heavy metal, likens the rhythm and pattern of painting to his style of drumming. He first moved to the Central Coast in 2010 and is now based in Kariong, near Brisbane Water National Park, with his wife and three sons.

We speak to the multi-talented creative about what he loves about his new home...

Image with caption
Image with caption

What do you love most about the Coast?

“Moving to the Central Coast was the best decision, it allowed me to hit the 'reset button' with life. Everything’s on your doorstep, you can surround yourself with the peacefulness of nature and even have the whole beach to yourself. You wouldn’t get that with the hustle and bustle of Sydney.”


What brought you to the Central Coast?

My wife wanted to move up here and, if I’m honest, I was reluctant. I didn’t know anything besides the hustle and bustle of Sydney. That said, I was keen for a change and I’m happy to say she was right. It’s the best decision we’ve ever made. I love it here. It’s definitely home now.

What do you love most about living on the Coast?

The lifestyle in general. It’s way more relaxed than Sydney. It moves at a pace that I like. You have everything here on your doorstep. The bush, the beach, fresh air and nature. You can’t beat that. 

Where is the first place you’d take your guest when they visit the Coast?

Pearl Beach on a lazy afternoon when it’s quiet and the shadows are long. It’s not crowded and sometimes you’ll have the whole beach to yourself. It has gentle waves and is a peaceful spot to sit on the sand and reflect.

Image with caption
Image with caption

Where is your favourite spot for a morning coffee? 

Besides my back porch, The Times Cafe up in Kariong. Good people, good coffee!

What is your favourite restaurant?

Ela Mesa in Woy Woy. The best Greek food you’ll find anywhere.

The Central Coast now has ECO Destination status – do you have local tips for travellers to explore our region sustainably?

Sustainability is at the very heart of Aboriginal culture. Be respectful of where you are, tread lightly and leave no trace.

Image with caption
Artwork credit: Garry Purchase

What is your go-to outdoors experience? 

I’m at home in nature, so besides all the beautiful beaches, bushwalking the many trails we have is always special. I especially love Girrakool Falls, and Somersby Falls but that is currently closed until December 2023.  Also the trails off the back of Walkabout Wildlife Park in Calga, and of course the bushland surrounding my home in Kariong, in Brisbane Water National Park.

There’s so much beauty in nature. The wildlife is plentiful and for me it’s like hitting the “reset” button when I find a quiet spot, close my eyes and just breathe.

Image with caption
Girrakool Loop Track, Brisbane Water National Park
Image with caption
Somersby Falls by Nick James

What would be your one piece of advice for aspiring artists on the Coast?

Go for it! Be present, enter events, introduce yourself and make yourself known. Get amongst it. We are blessed with great facilities and opportunities here. The art community on the Coast is huge. There’s events and groups that cater to all forms of art.

The Gosford Regional Art Gallery runs several exhibitions a year that artists can participate in and I am lucky enough to run several Aboriginal Art exhibitions each year at The Entrance Art Gallery; we always welcome artists to come in and have a chat with us.

What are you working on right now?

2023 is a massive year in the making for me. I’m lucky in that I have a lot of avenues to explore, from big murals to early education, workshops and corporate opportunities. I’m keen to get back to painting some more major pieces and telling more stories. We’re working on putting together a couple of exhibitions at The Entrance Art Gallery (29 May – 11 June, and 2–10 December 2023).

This article was written by Megan Arkinstall, with photography by James Horan, as part of the region's inspiring local Maker & Creator community supported by Love Central Coast.