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Sweet Medicine | Art Pharmacy Launches Art 2.0

After an incredible career in London and Beijing, working for Lisson Gallery representing Anish Kapoor, The British Museum, and with private art collector James Birch with a collection featuring Damien Hirst and Francis Bacon, Emilya Colliver returned home to Australia.  What she recognised in our local market need for accessible affordable art, available to all. This was the beginning of online art phenomenon, Art Pharmacy. 

Estelle Pigot catches up with Colliver and her team, to discover more about this new prescription for art addicts.


Launched in November 2012, Art Pharmacy is an online art store and art gallery, showing original Australian artworks at attractively accessible prices, founded by Emilya Colliver. She is part of a flood of e-commerce platforms that have shrugged the authority of bricks and mortar to create a digital art market, and she has found no resistance from art lovers or artists. It’s also bridging the tyranny of distance for regional creatives.

“I saw a real gap in the market to match artists that create original artwork, with buyers that can afford them, but just don’t have the time or knowledge to visit numerous galleries to find them,”Colliver says.  “Being online keeps the cost down for collectors and artists.”

The entrepreneur saw an opportunity to introduce Australia to a web-based art space.  ‘The online component creates freedom for buyers to view original works without needing to travel to urban galleries or spend time at intimidating openings. ”People don’t necessarily have the opportunity to come to you. What they can easily do, though, is go online at home.”

Artists also benefit from the ease of the online gallery. Promoting, selling and showcasing original works of art is made simple and cost effective within a digital space. Art Pharmacy creates a platform for those living out of state or in areas where there may not be a larger audience for the arts or a variety of accessible galleries for them to exhibit their work.

“Art Pharmacy’s online gallery creates wonderful opportunities for regional artists to get more recognition within the wider arts community,” says Celine Roberts, head of Press and Media for Art Pharmacy.  “For emerging, or sometimes even established artists it can be difficult to find the time and money amidst working full time, creating art and living your life to show and install at galleries. Also with the cost of rent ever increasing, galleries are charging more to showcase artist’s works. The arts can be a very difficult industry to break into and Art Pharmacy creates a jumping-off platform for many artists from across Australia to start their career in selling their work.”

Anna Maude is Arts Pharmacy’s Arts and Events coordinator. She primarily works on discovering, inviting and working with artists to add to the gallery’s collection. She actively utilises social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter to connect with artists and creative people who may not live locally. “Though we are based in Sydney,” says Roberts, “we are always trying to outreach and connect to those in the wider arts community.”

When selecting artists for the website, the team applies a Hippocratic approach, applying their clinically-inspired values first:  “head, heart and hand”.

Head: Are the works well considered from a conceptual perspective? The team assesses if the works are a reaction to or examination time and place, social context, and/or the human condition.

Heart: Is there an emotional side to the works? Here they are looking for works that show the artist’s relationships with themselves and others, the issues that affect them or how their personal expression of these aspects come through in their work.

Hand: Is there a level of technical skill involved in the making of the work? Finally, they examine the aesthetics of the work, the artist’s technique, and how the artist’s practice is unique or sets them apart from others.

Art Pharmacy provides artists with their own profile page on our website featuring their medium, pricing, biography and an interview, which stimulates the popularity and growth of the collection of artists. The virtual space is free to artists for as long as they feature, with commissions only taken on sales. Artists need not physically send or deliver their works to the gallery in order to exhibit which takes the hassle, time and money out of travel and freight. “Art Pharmacy is all about fostering and supporting artists,” says Roberts. “Our team strive to make the experience of selling work as enjoyable and simple for the artists involved.”

The gallery has materialised in pop-up spaces, hosting short exhibitions and meet-the-artist events, but the team do most of their networking electronically. Viral-based promotions appeal to a completely new demographic that has eluded the more established, real-world galleries; younger purchasers, middle-market “whim” purchasers who find the white cube intimidating, and the utterly uninitiated who, like the rest of us, Google first.

Interested regional artists are encouraged to send their work to