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PROFILE: Orillia artist followed her heart, loves owning studio

'The arts draw people here, and Orillia is amazingly rich with all kinds of arts,' says Molly Farquharson, owner of Hibernation Arts in Orillia's Arts District
Molly Farquharson 11-16-21
Molly Farquharson is the owner of Hibernation Arts Gallery on Peter Street South.

It took quite a while, but Molly Farquharson finally followed her heart when she opened Hibernation Arts Gallery in downtown Orillia almost four years ago.

Farquharson, who was an English language teacher for 30 years, was always an artist at heart.

“Sometimes I’d venture out on my own ideas, but it didn’t pay rent. I loved teaching English, that in itself was an art, but I enjoy what I’m doing now, too,” she said.

Farquharson moved away from North America 40 years ago and ended up in Istanbul Turkey where she was the director of a language school, she also taught academic English, and ran a café.

“It was wonderful. There is so much history there and it’s very interesting. Turks are very nice people, and the food is really good,” she said.

At the end of Farquharson’s time in Turkey, her daughter was starting a family in Texas.

“She wanted me on the same continent, so that’s when I decided it was time to come home,” she explained.

During her four decades away from Canada, she occasionally came home to visit her sister who lives in Orillia. When she settled back in here in Canada, she decided the education business was no longer for her.  

Farquharson decided to follow her dreams of becoming a full-time artist.

“I had been doing stitchery, which is a kind of fibre art, and I was really enjoying it. So, when I returned home to Canada from Turkey, I decided to go in the artsy direction," she explained. 

“At first, I would show my art in other people’s studios, and then I got a small inheritance and decided I wanted to open my own gallery.”

Farquharson is enjoying spending her days at her 17 Peter St. S. gallery, dabbling with her own art projects, chatting with local artists and people interested in buying local art. 

“Dealing with the hordes of people that want to buy art is a lot of fun,” she chuckled.

“We have a wonderful selection of art that people get to see every day, the word is getting around, and it’s a comfortable place for people to come and enjoy themselves.”

The pieces she has on display in her gallery are the work of about 25 different local artists.

“It takes a lot of guts to say I’m an artist, and then to put your art somewhere people can see. It also takes a lot of guts because you are putting something you’ve made out for judgment,” she said.

Farquharson says her gallery gives local artists and community members a calm, soothing, and safe environment.

“The work is amazing. The fact that people can drop in here and browse without feeling intimidated is important,” Farquharson said.

“I have music, poetry readings, and book talks. So, I want this place to be inclusive of other kinds of arts.”

Farquharson, 71, says she will keep the studio open as long as she can, and she doesn’t have any current plans to retire.

“I’m old now, so I will stop doing it at some point,” she said with a laugh.

Farquharson has been on countless arts boards and committees since she opened her business in Orillia, and she encourages all Orillians to do what they can to support local arts.

“The arts draw people here, and Orillia is amazingly rich with all kinds of arts. I think people should buy art here rather than at HomeSense or something like that,” she said.

“I’ve seen in other places where artists move in, they get discovered, and then turn into a really hip place. Artists start trends of economic development.”

Farquharson encourages everyone to stop into her gallery and buy themselves, a friend, or a loved one a local piece of art as a way to show support for local artists.

“When some people think of art, they think it’s going to cost thousands and thousands of dollars, but here you could buy a piece of art for $50, $100, or $200. It’s obtainable art,” she explained.

This feature appears each Monday. If you have an idea for someone who should be profiled in this space, send your suggestion to [email protected].


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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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