The Right Art Prescription: Q&A With Art Pharmacy Founder

The Right Art Prescription: Q&A With Art Pharmacy Founder

Suffering from a lack of art in your life?  In need of an injection of creativity?  Then perhaps you need Art Pharmacy - a new online gallery that aims to prescribe joy and beauty to the Australian public by providing a convenient and cost effective source of great art by great emerging Australian artists. 

Art Pharmacy ( was launched in Sydney in August as a unique dispensary of quirky and unique pieces of art.  The site was built on the idea that there should be a place to browse and buy beautiful, unique artworks that have been handmade by Australian artists.

As part of their treatment program, Art Pharmacy will engage with the art buying public through a series of pop-up shows, the first of which is currently being held in Sydney until the 6th of December.

Nicholas Forrest, Executive Editor of Artinfo Australia, recently caught up with Art Pharmacy founder Emilya Colliver to ask her a few questions about the new venture.

What is the concept behind Art Pharmacy?

The concept behind Art Pharmacy is to provide affordable Australian contemporary art. Our goal is to make art more accessible to all, both for the buyer and the artist.

For the artist: We are providing a platform of support for both emerging and established artists with high quality work. We love the idea of supporting local artists who have their own studios and groundings but not access to a platform to sell their works or gain exposure as an Australian artist. Our commission rates are lower than other Sydney galleries, which is also why the work is more affordable. 

For the buyer: We’re so aware of loving great art and not being able to afford it. Galleries that are intimidating and inaccessible can do a disservice to art sometimes. There is also the buyer who can appreciate art, have the desire to experience a beautiful work, but not know where to go to find this. 

We host pop-up shows every 4 months in various locations in Sydney. Future plans involve other cities such as Melbourne, Hobart etc. We’re also we’re hoping to expand our pop-up shows to smaller regional towns in Australia. We want art to be accessible in ways not simply limited to cost. 

We’re also trying to break down the barrier between artist and audience. At our pop-up shows we embrace the idea of collaboration - creative people working and communicating together. In the gallery we invite our featured artists to give up their time and spend a day in the gallery meeting the public, purchasers, those interested in art, as well as using our space as a location for creative thought, art making, and meeting like-minding artists, designers, general creative humans.

How did the idea for the site come about?

We often found ourselves surrounded by talented artists yet felt there was nothing in the market to help nurture them and no platform to benefit them in a simple yet successful way. Time and time again you hear how difficult it is to make a living out of art, especially in Australia. Our site came about as everyone is quite time poor these days and we want to cut out that middle ground which makes buying art a bit of a mission! You should be able to buy art anywhere, and be excited by that. 

We’re using pop-up shows to help celebrate our artists, prove to people that our work is, of course, of a high standard, and is something you should feel comfortable and excited about when purchasing at our pop-up shows and online.

What do you hope to achieve with the site?

We want to make art accessible to everyone. We want to be a platform for Australian artists on a global scale. Each artist has their own ‘Artist Page’, so if you like a certain artists, you can browse their series and whole body of work.

We are also working on the development of a gift registry – instead of a toaster you can be given a piece of art! Why not spread art further. 

We also want to educate people on art. We don’t see why art shouldn’t be accessible to everyone. If we can provide knowledge for an audience, whether it’s in terms of paints, process, the artist as an individual, and how creative spaces and creative thought can exist and work within a city, then we’re doing something special.

What is the focus of Art Pharmacy?

We’re supporting emerging artists within the community and educating buyers on where to go to purchase great art; we’re making it easily accessible by primarily embracing the idea of selling art online (as it’s still quite a new concept). We want people to know that you can still collect art even if you don’t have thousands of dollars to put into a piece. Moreover, we really focus on art education rather than just the commercial side of art, teaching people about art and the significance it has on our well being.

Through our blog we offer insights into artist’s lives and as said before, each exhibition we ask our artists to spend a day in the gallery with the public, the work, and us. We’re breaking down barriers between art and people’s perception of it. We are also going to be branching out into art talks in Sydney, community workshops etc.

Who are the people behind the venture?

There are two of us primarily working on Art Pharmacy and totally utterly passionate about the arts...

Emilya Colliver - Founder: Has an Art History degree from UCL & SOAS in London, honours in Asian Contemporary art. She has worked in various high end galleries and institutions in London & Beijing eg. Lisson Gallery, British Museum, Hauser & Wirth, Eskenazi and worked for private art collector James Birch (collection included: Grayson Perry, Francis Bacon, Gilbert & George)

Emily Herdman – Editor & Media: Has studied Spatial Design and Art History at the University of Sydney. She has a background as an artist and arts writer.

The Art Pharmacy pop-up show can be viewed at 106 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst until the 6th of December.  For more information visit the Art Pharmacy website here, or the Art Pharmacy facebook page here