Curate a creative adventure in Merri-bek

Discover an art gallery in every corner of Merri-bek with our Art Galleries Trail map.

We have 23 galleries presenting diverse collections of thrilling and thought-provoking works by local, Australian and international artists.

With many galleries situated in close walking or cycling distance to each other, it’s easy to make a day out of immersing yourself in art. Learn more about three must-visit galleries to include on your itinerary.

Courtesy: Counihan Gallery

Counihan Gallery – Art with impact

Merri-bek City Council operates the Counihan Gallery, located inside the Brunswick Town Hall. It’s a courageous contemporary arts space that promotes and nurtures local emerging and mid-career artists with socially, politically or culturally engaged arts practices. The exhibition program reflects a commitment to political activism, sustainability and creative expression.

The Counihan Gallery opened in 1999 and is named in honour of the Australian artist and activist Noel Counihan, a champion of social justice and a vocal supporter of free speech. Counihan’s legacy informs the gallery’s spirit of activism.

The Counihan hosts the annual Merri-bek Summer Show, which invites any artist who lives, works, studies or bases their arts practice in the City of Merri-bek to contribute a work relating to an exhibition theme. The theme changes each year. This exhibition invites artists to consider how their practice can be a tool for social justice or political activism.

233 Sydney Road, Brunswick VIC 3056
03 9389 8622
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A person views artwork displayed against white walls with white lighting overhead.
Image: Blackartprojects presents Robert Fielding | Nganampa Tjukurpa. Courtesy: Sorse Gallery.

Sorse Gallery – Come to the ‘sorse’

Inside a large, light-filled converted industrial warehouse, once home to a tailoring factory, you’ll find Sorse Gallery. Established in April 2023, it’s a family-founded space run by Jax Plumley, Annette Allman and Noel Plumley; all three have their own artistic practices.

During the pandemic, the Brunswick locals saw many local private galleries close their doors. They wanted to open a space that didn’t replace those but added back to the community some of what may have been lost. There was also a lack of gallery spaces suited to large sculptural works that were either too big/too heavy to exhibit or were not commercially aligned with traditional private gallery settings and requirements.

Behind the scenes at Sorse, Jax, Annette and Noel’s individual skills complement the development of each exhibition – be it visionary, curatorial or technical aspects. The team looks to work with creatives who have exceptional dedication to their own crafts and bring new talents and concepts to the space.

Sorse Gallery welcomes all mediums, from 2D works to 3D works, audiovisual or performance. It’s important to the team to showcase a diversity of artists and artworks across the exhibition schedule. This includes exhibitions for local creatives who either can’t find a space or can’t find representation. Sorse accepts applications to exhibit with a low hire fee and a low 10% commission model to maximise opportunities and profitability for emerging and established exhibiting creatives. Beyond exhibitions, the gallery is available for hire for values-aligned non-exhibition/commercial uses with creative outputs.

As for the name? The three finally agreed on Sorse (pronounced like horse), an homage to mythology (in Roman mythology, Sors is the god of luck and the son of Fortuna) and the concept of ‘going to the source’, reflecting the artist-centric approach of the gallery. Jax, Annette and Noel look forward to the continuing evolution of their space and the opportunities that lie ahead.

31 Colebrook St, Brunswick VIC 3056
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Courtesy: Beinart Gallery

Beinart Gallery – Discover the extraordinary

Beinart Gallery was established in 2016. Yet its role in the art world spans two decades, including publishing, curation, promotion and education. The brick-and-mortar gallery opened in 2016, first in Sparta Place before relocating to a gorgeous heritage building on Victoria St. The gallery represents highly skilled local and international figurative artists with a shared fascination for surreal and imaginative themes.

Head Curator Jon Beinart launched a website back in 2003 – pre-social media – featuring his surreal art and the work of his surreal artist friends. Jon was always obsessed with this kind of art. He grew up loving Hieronymus Bosch, Salvador Dali, Escher and psychedelic underground comics.

Jon began seeking local and international artists to feature on the popular website, dubbing it the Beinart Underground Australian Art Collective – later, the International Surreal Art Collective. He curated American art shows and published art books, before pivoting post-GFC thanks to a crowdfunding campaign to save the Beinart Collective. Artists, loyal followers and subscribers all pitched in, supporting Jon to open the first gallery.

Jon’s mission was to provide a platform for local artists and help build their visibility with local and international collectors. Exhibitions at the Beinart Gallery are always well attended, especially the annual Small Works show – affordable works 30cm or smaller from well-known artists and first-timers. Discovering and showing artists with such diverse experiences from all around the world is a highlight for Jon. You’re just as likely to come across work from local favourites, Shaun Tan or Graeme Base as you are to discover an incredible emerging artist.

When you visit, take a moment to enjoy the original features of the 120-year-old building, including the stained glass windows and beautiful arches. And don’t miss the ever-expanding gift shop. It’s a little cabinet of curiosities, a Wunderkammern, full of little biological specimens, books and other interesting things.