Wednesday, 7 December 2016

From Pizza to Art.. Getting a job in the Contemporary Art World

It's been a crazy and mountainous year for my career. Last December I sat in our basement room in a hostel working part time as a waitress, volunteering at The William Morris Gallery and wondering how I was going to get this art career off the ground. Every job I applied for expecting 1-2 years experience as an intern. Every internship I applied for expected candidates to have already worked as an intern, gained a degree and essentially work for free full time. In London. One of the most expensive cities in the world. 

It's this crazy catch 22 situation and so many candidates I was up against had degrees in art history, spoke a second language and sometimes, masters degrees. Never mind the actual work experience they also doubtlessly had. Here I was with a degree in advertising, a love of art and a knowledge that art made me feel more alive than any other pathway could. 

I gained an internship at an East London gallery for 3 months, working three days a week for free at the gallery, another three as a waitress with the last day reserved for church and sleep. I learnt so much. How to hang, pack and handle artwork. Worked at regular exhibition openings, researched artists to exhibit and gained a primary focus of the logistical side of a small gallery business. It was hugely beneficial and I was offered a full time role with the hope of an extension. For the next two months I worked five days a week at the gallery, one evening shift and one day shift as a waitress. Again with Sunday as my only day off. 

It was hard work, but again I learned even more. I worked with a team from Hong Kong and went on to receive a one day a week position as essentially a manager on duty, where I would oversee interns and manage the company's main email account and exhibition schedule. While this lasted for a further two months, accumulating in seven months experience. I was back to waitressing the majority of the time due to the lack of further opportunities at the company. 

I was working like crazy and nothing permanent was coming of the situation. I was researching vacancies in the arts, but knew the kind of people I would be up against. Over this duration I must have applied for around 200 jobs. I would be invited to interviews, told how much they loved me but my experience was lacking which was the incredibly frustrating. My experience was clearly outlined before hand and surely an interview is mainly to see if they like you... 

I was getting more and more downhearted.. until I did my most extensive job interview. I submitted a CV along with a PDF of social media examples (hello blog), face-to-face interview, written task, presentation, telephone interview. And then the day after my 23rd birthday I found out the job was mine! 

I had been considered a wildcard but here I was being offered a full time position in the arts! I now work for charity initiative that raises money through original, postcard sized artworks. 

In my six months at the company, I have carried out art admin, handled and catalogued valuable artwork. Written online content, attended a social media course by the Frieze Academy specialising in art and fashion. Held originals by Grayson Perry and Damien Hurst, fell in love with the work of emerging artists and visited the studio of Harland Miller. 

As a company we work on so many projects throughout the year, and I have had the opportunity to work at the urban Moniker Art Fair, oversee the hanging arrangements and play a large role in an exhibition held at an incredible gallery in Mayfair, managed volunteers, learned so much about artists and the contemporary art scene here in London. And most recently helped run a secret auction that raised £75K for charity and appeared in The Guardian and The Times newspapers.

It's been an unexpected and educational year. 


Monday, 5 December 2016

Snapshots of Summer

It might be almost Christmas but life has been so busy lately it's wonderful to take time to finally reflect on what a wonderful summer I had! I finally met my goal to work in a job where I wouldn't need to work weekends and managed to captured a few marvellous moments with this husband of mine. I happily ate umpteen amounts of overpriced ice cream and basked in the gloriously unexpected hot days, started sporting pink satin trousers and cut my hair. 

Here's to documenting the darker months and starting once again to share on this blog of mine.  


Friday, 16 September 2016

Taking Back the Lunch Break

I have recently re-entered the world of full time office work. It brings with it a more stable routine, daily fulfilment and potential for career development. But it also brings may uncharted waters to navigate; dress codes, work colleague relationships, meetings and the most unsure of all.. lunch breaks. Having worked in advertising and design agencies the hours were 9am-6pm with overtime expected and most people sitting at their desks during lunch eating while they work and not actually taking a break. Over time I found this immensely stressful. It's good for you and ultimately more productive to take a step back. Yet with no one taking that time out it is so easy to feel pressured into doing the same.

Whether that mindset is exclusive to fast paced industries I would love to know. My new work however is set in a quirky old building in South London and doesn't seem to have this kind of pressure. While, yes people do still often sit at their desks. It offers a freedom I associate with being in a studio at university. My lunch breaks have throughly been encouraged. To enjoy the sunshine, to visit White Cube, the food markets or simply walk around. Begging the question whether the lunch break culture is a collective result of all those who work in the office and their perspective? Or simply due to the pressures of the job and the amount of work you have piling up?

Either way I have been in love with lunch breaks these past few weeks. In London there is so much to explore even within a 10/15min walk from the office. The unexpected heat has certainly coaxed me out of the office into local parks and phone calls with friends. And I find I return to the office a happier me, more peaceful and energised to make the most of the day. 

How do you spend your lunch break?


Tuesday, 6 September 2016

RA Summer Exhibition

The Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibition is a highlight in many people's summers and with it's longstanding success it is clear to see why. Featuring thousands of emerging and highly established contemporary artists, 2016 saw the RA host it's 248th Summer Exhibition.  

With summer slipping from our finger tips I had been encouraged by so many people to make sure we visit and I'm so glad we did. Having never been to the venue before were impressed by its beautiful and traditional architecture which makes the layout of the exhibition all the more surprising and satisfying. 

Often the way in which work is hung in exhibitions is incredible regimented with only double or triple hanging and x amount of space between each piece. These however were hung with four to six pieces, a huge range of styles, sizes and compositions. A style I would like to call organised yet higgledy-piggledy (contradicting I know). And. It. Was. Glorious. 

The whole exhibition had an air of playfulness and vibrancy that still maintained the level of 'seriousness' many expect from high end and prestigious institutions. It enabled art to become that much more accessible and to be looked at from all angles. 

Each room was curated with a different purpose in mind and allowed discovery. I couldn't believe how large the exhibition was however and it was a lot to absorb on a short visit on a work night. As we tired and decided to leave, we spotted the sculptures in the Lecture Room and it turned out to be my absolute favourite! I love immersive and interactive art. 

I almost overlooked The Bridge by Jimmy Cauty, a piece that looks like a shipping container until Bernard told me that there were tiny peepholes and I had to look inside. He wouldn't even say what it contained! 

At first it wasn't clear. My eyes adjusted and scanned around. There was a road accident inside! An intricate scene of tiny people on a suspension bridge, police officers, passengers and flashing lights. It was amazing! The further down you looked revealed the ocean, tiny search boats and rafts. For those who visited Banky's Dismaland, this is a smaller piece in the series from Cauty's The Aftermath Dislocation Principle.  

However, what impressed me most was the concept of the piece rather than it's individual components. It is a commentary on the nosiness of society. Whenever there's a car crash or 'disturbance' in our neighbourhoods, we stop and stare intently out of our windows. Detached from the situation at hand as if it were merely a TV show, fabricated for our imaginations. Relevant to the current horrors in world events, it questions how we perceive the calamity of others and at times, our sense of helplessness. 

The entire exhibition was incredible and truly inspiring. I urge everyone to attend next year as sadly this current show has come to an end. With so much to enjoy and discuss I wanted to include a few more photographs of pieces that stood out to me both as someone in the creative industries and as an inherent human being.

And let us not forget the RA courtyard..

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