Manyung Gallery Group: 55 Years of Nurturing Australian Art and Artists

The name “Manyung” is derived from two local indigenous words describing the watercourses that flowed near the original gallery site in Mount Eliza, on the Mornington Peninsula.

The site was well known and loved with its faux Tuscan castle look, 10 sub-galleries, 160-year-old oak trees, sculpture courtyards, lots of art activity and warming open fires.




Manyung Gallery has been presenting primarily contemporary Australian paintings and sculptures for most of its 55 years, helping underpin Australia’s arts industry. The business now represents more than 150 artists and has long relationships with many more. Artist careers have been launched over the decades through active involvement with Manyung’s rolling exhibition activity. The business now runs more than 30 exhibitions each year across its six art spaces in Victoria and participates in annual Affordable Art Fairs in Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore and soon in Brisbane.

The present custodians of the Manyung brand, David and Sharyn Wemyss-Smith, have operated the business for more than 20 years, taking it from a small but well-respected single gallery operation to now six gallery sites around Melbourne. Each has a different personality
and pitch.

Manyung is the largest commercial art gallery business, by volume, in Victoria and the third oldest. Apart from supporting 150+ painters and sculptors, the business has a great team of 16 enthusiastic staff, whose mission in life is to assist clients with their artwork needs.

While both David and Sharyn come from “arty” families, they have both had corporate careers and were clients of Manyung prior to buying the operation. Each brings different strengths to the business — Sharyn had a career at Channel 10, working extensively on the arts, and David’s career was in marketing, HR and general management.

Manyung represents artists who primarily create in Australia, but has connections to a few overseas, mainly European and relocated Australian-born artists who paint in diverse locations including London, Majorca, Durban, Auckland and the US.

The business has more than 2000 artworks under management and they can all be seen on the company’s website. There is a huge diversity of mediums offered: oil, acrylic, oil pastel, pencil, ink, and various mixed media. With sculpture, Manyung has works created from bronze, glass, ceramic, timber, stainless and mild steel of all sizes, shapes and subject matter.

There is something for everyone, from huge 3m-wide paintings to finely finessed small bronze sculptures and 250kg garden features at the Flinders sculptural space. Subjects vary widely, as do the diversity of art styles, from large abstracts to representational works depicting hinterlands, beach and seascapes, the busyness of cities and walkways.

Over the years, Manyung has sent artworks to all states and territories and overseas to more than 25 different countries. A large 50kg kinetic (wind-driven) sculpture was recently shipped from Victoria to WA’s Margaret River and, from the same sculptor, a 2.8m-high work went to Indianapolis, USA.

Manyung’s general philosophy relates to ensuring clients receive the very best attention, never in an overbearing way and always incredibly service-focused. To ensure tight deadlines have been met, artworks have been delivered before 6am in the morning and even after midnight! “We don’t sell artwork to people, but rather respond to their needs which may then lead to a transaction to suit all parties — the client, the artist and Manyung,” said David.

The themes that best describe the Manyung art operation include: a focus on community and individual client orientation; welcoming and inclusive to everyone; totally flexible in terms of meeting often very diverse art challenges; always accommodating, empathising and understanding of individual and family needs … “art is so personal”, says Sharyn.

Manyung has successfully grown over half a century following this credo and expects to continue along these lines well into the future.

Words David Wemyss-Smith

For more information Manyung Gallery Group

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