35 Derby Street, Collingwood

Australian Galleries

+61 2 9360 5177

15 Roylston Street
Paddington, 2021

Australian Galleries was established in Melbourne by Tam and Anne Purves in June 1956.  The space was originally the Purves� pattern manufacturing business in the inner suburb of Collingwood.  They supplied the all-important patterns to the local fashion industry which was centred around the warehouses in the adjoining streets.

Together their vision and driving force resulted in the development of what was then, an extraordinary idea.  They started a commercial gallery to show the small group of culturally important post-war Australian artists emerging in Melbourne who at the time had nowhere to seriously show and sell their work.  The first painters to exhibit at Australian Galleries included artists who went on to become some of Australia�s greatest ever, such as Arthur Boyd, Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker and John Perceval.
Anne and Tam pioneered the professional exhibiting and marketing of contemporary art in Australia.  From the beginning, their gallery developed a reputation for representing prominent Australian artists and along with the aforementioned, included other great names, John Brack, John Olsen, Fred Williams and Brett Whiteley.

Stuart Purves, the youngest of three children, joined his parents in the gallery in 1966.  After the death of Tam in 1969, Stuart and Anne ran the gallery until her death in 1999.

Now under the sole directorship of Stuart Purves, and with 15 staff, Australian Galleries continues to represent significant contemporary Australian artists including Jeffrey Smart, Inge King, William Robinson, John Coburn, Garry Shead, Colin Lanceley, John Wolseley, Peter Neilson, Lewis Miller, Peter Churcher and Graeme Drendel, along with an involvement in the estates of George Baldessin, Brett Whiteley, Lloyd Rees and Arthur Boyd. (see full artists list on home page).


A passionate advocate of artists, Stuart Purves� role as director is to ensure Australian Galleries remains vital and viable so that the artists they represent can air their views through the exhibiting of their work and survive and prosper.

Stuart has expanded the business to include four galleries, two each in Victoria and New South Wales.   In recognition of the need to honour the status of prints, drawings, watercolours and photography, one gallery in each state specialises in works on paper.

The move to Sydney in 1989 provided a strong, extended audience and client base, as well as closer contact with artists living in New South Wales.

The Melbourne Painting and Sculpture gallery operates from the original site at 35 Derby Street with the works on paper gallery at 50 Smith Street, both in Collingwood.  In Sydney the galleries are in key locations in Paddington, with the painting and sculpture at 15 Roylston Street and the works on paper gallery at 24 Glenmore Road.  All locations offer simple, architecturally designed space for uncluttered viewing of the works of art.

Averaging between forty-five to fifty exhibitions each year, the necessity of producing their own print media became evident.  In 2001 Stuart began an in-house graphic design and production department for invitations, folios, catalogues and books to promote the gallery�s extensive programme for the artist�s.

To ensure maximum efficiency for sales, administration and cataloguing, Australian Galleries  recently employed an IT company to create a unique database. This was designed specifically for Australian Galleries use to incorporate multi-functional capabilities. The system meets the reference needs of art curators and historians and combines real-time business interaction between the four galleries.

Expertise and Contemporary Perspective

Stuart Purves travels weekly between Sydney and Melbourne to work closely with his experienced gallery teams. He also travels regularly overseas to visit artists and update his international perspective.

With forty years of active involvement in the visual arts, and as one of Australia�s few second-generation art dealers, Stuart is regularly consulted by the visual arts industry for his knowledge and expertise.

He is an approved valuer under the Commonwealth Government�s Cultural Gifts Program and is a former chairman, and now President, of the Australian Commercial Galleries Association.

For ten years he was a member of the Melbourne Contemporary Art Fair Board and held the role of Chairman for four of these years.

Future Directions

The success of Australian Galleries is a reflection of the passion and commitment to the artists it represents. Stuart Purves� personal dedication and enthusiasm to the promotion of the arts in Australia is indicative of his confidence in the important role visual art plays in the national and international psyche.