‘The Lab’ by Art Pharmacy is a pop-up exhibition collaborating with the Sydney Fringe Festival focusing on discovery, experimentation and innovation, featuring over 100 works from emerging and established artists. The building was a hairdresser before Art Pharmacy founder Emilya Colliver got to it and transformed it into a three-story gallery space.
The first night of ‘The Lab’ was without a doubt one of the busiest gallery openings I have ever been to. There was a large queue waiting to get in, although they were waiting quite happily as they had a perfect view of the art happening outside - Mulga the Artist was decorating the front window with a bright-green bearded scientist!
Immediately inside there was more live-art underway from painter Bea Bellingham, who was creating portraits on the spot, she was aiming to finish each one within twenty minutes, so her brush was moving quickly! Behind her there was a table ready and waiting with wine and Two Elk Cider - a most welcome entry point! At the back of the room was a second drink station which was serving up delicious citrusy Absolut Oz cocktails with colourful striped straws!
The art hanging on the walls was varied both in medium and style, from Cat Lee’s bright and colourful series of Australian birds to Will Coles’ dominating sculpture of a giant baby face. Sixteen artists were exhibiting and each one had their own unique style with over 100 artworks. There was a lot of life in the room with a gorgeous floral display by Coralie from Wild Blossom and beautiful little living terrariums by Elise Slater Live Softly.
Vincent Buret’s copper lamps were adding a warm glow to the space and ‘The Lab’ was absolutely abuzz with people discussing the art and the exhibition. Lots of red dots started appearing below artworks!
The entire gallery was filled with music from two very talented performers, Molly Contogeorge who was singing and playing keyboard; and Huckleberry Hastings, singing and playing guitar. It was really such a pleasure to have live-music and live-art happening together in the same room, it produced a vibrant and dynamic atmosphere.
It was hard not to trip walking up the stairs while being mesmerized by Brendan Fitzpatrick ’s brightly coloured photographs of x-rayed toys but when I got there I found myself immersed in Elyssa-Sykes Smith’s sculptural installation, which was a large-scale timber web featuring two human forms. One of the nicest things about entering this room was that Elyssa was there herself, standing inside her work and keen to discuss it with everyone who entered, an intimate experience which one doesn’t often get to have with an artist!
Upon reaching the top level of the gallery I got lost further down the rabbit-hole when entering a room entirely drenched in liquid-light by artist Kate Taylor . This must be the only time I’ve seen a room full of people standing and staring at the ceiling. The room had the hairdressing mirrors still in place and so the light was bouncing from the ceilings to the walls and making it feel as though we were all standing together inside a giant kaleidoscope.
The night was such a wonderful celebration of creativity and experimentation and it really wouldn’t have been possible without the help of all the wonderful sponsors and partners, props to the wonderful Mitchell Road Antiques, POSCA Australia, Porters Paints, Design By Them, Chroma Paints, Absolut Oz, Two Elk Cider and Karma Cola. It’s so wonderful to see so many creative brands working together to produce something so special!
The gallery will be open from 11am-7pm until Sunday 14th September at 20 Oxford Square, Darlinghurst. Drop in for a drink after 5pm.