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04.05.21 | Emilya Colliver, Founder and Director

Whats in a name

Ideas News

The story of how Art Pharmacy came to be... here is how I decided Australia needed its art 'fix' and decided to start filling a much-needed cultural 'prescription'.

We are coming up to our 9th year of Art Pharmacy being in business. As we approach the anticipated decade.... I would like to share a snippet of how the name Art Pharmacy came to be as an insight into my business and the industry. As everyone who runs a small business would know reflection is not something we have had a lot of time for, so indulge with me a while ...

Art Pharmacy is an unusual-sounding business name with a history and a bit of creative personality power behind it. When I returned to Australia after a successful art career in London and a stint in China I wanted to get into the art game and understand it's distinctly Australian identity. This was proving difficult to continue in the same vein of my London experience because the art industry here is much smaller and insular.

One day while helping out during a friend’s photography exhibition, selling artworks, and talking to customers, I realized I wanted to get back into the gallery world, but I wasn’t sure where to start. So, I put on a little show in a City of Sydney pop-up site on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst. It was an amazing experience, we had no money to activate the site so I asked an artist to paint the walls, and we all dressed up in lab coats and 1960s nurses hats. I called this activation the Art Pharmacy.

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The business name came from Famous Artist Damien Hirst’s installation work called ‘The Pharmacy’, where he kitted out an entire restaurant in Notting Hill as a pharmacy full of his works. I love the idea of creating a space where art lovers can come and get their ‘fix’ of art from really exciting emerging artists - I was imagining people filling their prescription at the Art Pharmacy!

The key thing for me then was to make art accessible to everyone - I wanted people to feel like they could buy art without being intimidated. I want to break down the barriers because at the core it’s about finding artists you like and supporting them by buying their work or commissioning them, and having a role in creating art that is meaningful to you. Reflecting on my career, I have realised this has been a consistent mission of mine since 2015 and it is a sentiment that has extended into the consulting business. As far as the name goes, I am glad Art Pharmacy has continued to aid in giving Australia it's art 'fix' and filling a much needed cultural 'prescription'.

Art Pharmacy is a full service art strategy and culture agency. Our Art Consultants are here to plan, manage and deliver creative projects that culturally enrich spaces and tell interesting stories using high- quality Australian art.

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