Merlo Coffee Art Series: supporting local artists

If you’ve ever been into a Merlo Coffee store, chances are you’ve seen some of the amazing artwork we have on our walls. Our Founder, Dean Merlo has a passion for art and you can see this in the striking, hand-picked pieces he has placed in the Queen Street, UQ, Coorparoo and Southport stores.

Another passion of Dean’s is his involvement in the local community and Merlo is committed to giving back in many and varied ways. In the past 12 months alone Merlo has donated over $200,000 to various charities and community events through direct donations, supply of complimentary coffee, involvement in major events and through personal fundraising that both Dean and our CEO, James Wilkinson, have personally undertaken.



In 2015, as part of our drive to support community ventures, Merlo Coffee joined forces with Art From The Margins (AFTM), a creative initiative of Wesley Mission Brisbane.

For nearly ten years AFTM have been instrumental in bridging the gap between artists living with disadvantage and the wider community.

The organisation supports and promotes the work of more than 400 artists living with adversity, disadvantage and social isolation, including artists living with mental health issues, physical or intellectual disabilities and homelessness.

The result of this partnership is the Merlo Art Prize – a $1,000 prize (provided as art supplies) awarded to a deserving artist – and the Merlo Coffee Art Series.

The Art Series is an annual limited edition set of collectable, high quality porcelain coffee cups and saucers which features a selected piece from the talented pool of AFTM artists.



In 2015 this was Damien Conte, a young artist from the far North Eastern part of NSW.

His piece titled ‘City Lights’ is featured on the 2015 set and uses acrylic paint for the base colour, with detailed patterns overlaid using acrylic paint pens.

For Damien, painting began as a series of experiments that has since become one of his passions. His artworks are full of colour, texture and vibrancy.

Painting has become an important creative expression that allows him to share his inner world with others and it also provides him with a balance to the rest of his life.

Damien has participated in several solo and group exhibitions locally and nationally since 2008.

He has also won several awards for his work including two major sponsorship awards from Art from the Margins in 2011 & 2012.

The 2016 edition of the Merlo Coffee Art Series showcased a piece by Nicky Carey, an Irish-born artist whose work is held in private collections and has been widely exhibited around the world.



Nicky says his works endeavour to retain his childhood vision of the world, but they are not childish, infantile or immature. Within the works are figures and events that are mainly derived from Freudian and Jungian psychology.

In the works there is a raw and intimate intensity and an unflinching view of the dark side of the human psyche, with a sardonic record of illness and suicide to salvage energies of ongoing existence.

Colour controls the shape of the image and there is always an obsessive use of imagery that is held together with a childlike freedom and playfulness.

Nicky was an award winner in the 2011 Art from the Margins Brisbane Festival Exhibition and his work has been acquired for the Art from the Margins – Wesley Mission Brisbane Permanent Art Collection.

The 2017 Merlo Coffee Art Series piece has just been selected and we can’t wait to share the new set with you later this year! Stay tuned…