CHEK Upside: Art gallery finding its footing in Victoria


When Joe Bembridge first started Gallery Merrick in Nanaimo four years ago, his goal was always to bring it to Victoria.

“It was kind of a transition to start in Nanaimo, get things going, get our artist roster together, get our client base going,” says Bembridge.

In April of this year, Gallery Merrick opened its doors on Government Street and was immediately welcomed by the Victoria Art Community.

“Other art galleries have been fantastic in saying ‘we’re happy you’re here, we’re happy to work beside you,’ and the art community and buyers,” says Bembridge. “People are coming in and purchasing from us which is fantastic.”

From the very beginning, featuring contemporary Canadian art has been a cornerstone of the gallery’s success.

“I started in the art industry in Banff and the gallery that I worked for there only represented Canadian artists,” says Bembridge. “So, I carried that concept through with my gallery just because we have so many incredible artists here.”

Bembridge is also cultivating the next generation of talented island artists by offering a mentorship program in addition to hosting a variety of openings showcasing their work.

“With our openings, we do feature artists from the island and surrounding islands, but we also pair them with artists from right across Canada,” says Bembridge. “So, we have a coming together of artists from Canada.”

Opening the gallery in Victoria has fulfilled a dream for Bembridge, who always wanted to live and work on Vancouver Island.

“When I moved to the Island I loved that somebody told me, ‘welcome to the Hawaii of Canada,’ and I went ‘I’m home,'” says Bembridge.

To learn more about the gallery as well as the artist mentorship program, visit the Gallery Merrick website.

Art work is seen on display at Gallery Merrick, located on Government Street in Victoria. (Cole Sorenson/CHEK News)

Cole Sorenson

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