I had the pleasure of sitting down with the indomitable Emilya Colliver of Art Pharmacy. As one of Idea Bombing’s first speakers, at what was then an unknown and whimsical upstart, Emilya helped us pioneer the Idea Bombing vision by lending her creative, entrepreneurial spirit for a night of art, chats and drinks...in an underground car park.
Emilya’s vision of her newly founded project, Art Pharmacy, was in full swing in May 2013. She had two Oxford Street Pop-up exhibitions to plan for and she had sooo much on her mind. But she believed in Idea Bombing as much as she believed in Art Pharmacy, and it has paid off well for both of us.
Emilya has come such a long way since the spawning of Idea Bombing. She is fresh off being nominated as a top three finalist for the ‘InStyle Woman of the Year 2014’. From no carpet, at Idea Bombing’s underground car park event, to Red Carpet in the flash of a year! Emilya can help me manage my social schedule anytime. But in all seriousness, Sydney’s societal world is not an easy one to break into for those who don't have limitless resources or a historical presence in this city.
From a vision of Art Pharmacy as “an online marketplace where anyone can find original art that inspires them, speaks to them and allows them to start the beginnings of a personal collection", people are able to surround themselves with beautiful work that comes with a story. The story of Art Pharmacy and their mission to connect great artists to a thriving community of ‘black-collar’ creatives.
Emilya isn't stopping there either. She is pushing her boundaries with ever more ambitious projects ahead. Creativity and cross-collaboration with Miss Darlinghurst, Sofar Sounds and other grass-roots organisations are all in the works. Emilya's 'Semi-Permanent' rendezvous in May and her liaising with artist Mr. Brainwash gave this plan it's momentum. If that's not enough, there is a takeover planned with Gelato Messina to install a special ‘Art Pharmacy Gelato exhibit' one afternoon and host an artist talk.
There's no doubt Emilya knows a lot of people in the art world but she wants to cross-pollinate and get to meet with more creative types that work in other circles and industries to further explore the Sydney creative-scape. So what's next? BIGGER AND BETTER. And you won't have to wait long. After 'Atrium' ends, check Emilya out at Sydney Fringe Festival pop-up from Sept. 4-14th.
Q & A session:
1. I can’t help but notice that you have a particular affinity for a certain Picasso quote: “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. ”. What about this quote really resonates with you?
" Sadly when most of us grow up, we lose the creativity we had when we were children – life was much more free back then. Creativity is so important to our society and I think people take it for granted, and it’s often the arts that are the first things to have cuts when budgets are announced. Art Pharmacy is about keeping the creativity alive and accessible, no matter what your budget is. "
2. What are your plans for your pop-up space, The Atrium, at Object: Australian Design Centre for Idea Bombing Sydney’s latest event?
" We have around 5 of our Sydney-based artists displaying an exciting range of works in the atrium part of the gallery which will be a fantastic follow-on from the main gallery exhibition. Idea Bombing will be attracting people who are craving a creative outlet, either doing or appreciating, and I’m hoping that by showing what Art Pharmacy is trying to achieve we will get more people inspired to get involved with creative things in their community. It still amazes me how many people will buy mass-produced, Asian-made prints from Freedom or Ikea when for nearly the same money they can buy a unique artwork by some of Australia’s best emerging artists. We just need all the help we can get to spread the word! "
3. With Pop-up shops, markets and galleries, plus festivals of every kind; What do you see as the most effective way the City of Sydney inspires its citizens to be more creative in their daily lives? What projects have had the biggest impact on bringing creatives together to share this journey?
" The City of Sydney is definitely moving in the right direction; I’ve seen a huge increase in creative output and collaboration with the council over the last 4 years. And it’s not just pure art, I love the Idea Bombing philosophy and it goes broader than that with Rising Sun Workshop and Sew Make Create to name just a couple that are bringing together communities and providing many different opportunities. We need more 'affordable' creative spaces so this keeps going. The council should be pouncing to embrace these businesses that are keen to transform these degraded, under-utilised premises and turn them into amazing facilities. Right now, we are working with Sydney Fringe Festival and it’s tough to find a space to host our next show. "
4. What do you see as the next big evolution for Art Pharmacy? Where do you want to take your vision from here?
" We are planning on doing shows in Brisbane and Melbourne next year to get Art Pharmacy further afield; we also hope to get a shipping container to use as a portable gallery bringing our awesome affordable art closer to people. We also hope to launch Art Pharmacy Labs, which will be a program for educational talks. So many exciting things ahead for us! "