Thursday, 31 March 2016

Interning at an Art Gallery and Advice for Artists

I have just finished my three month internship working at a vanity gallery in east London. It was amazing and I was able to learn so much so quickly. It was my first time working intensively in a gallery environment and as such I was exposed to the logistics and inner workings needed to help keep a gallery ticking in terms of the day to day. 

From art handling, unpacking and installation I learnt the maths required to hang art work, a lot of DIY skills and can proudly say that I can sort out the calculations, draw guideline, hammer nails, remove nails, fill holes, sand and repaint walls. I even learned how to successfully use an electric drill. All while making sure the middle of the artwork is at 150cm or 'eye level'. The gallery had a huge exhibition turn around with two venues and a total of four separate group shows a month. I really appreciate being physically active in the workplace and mastering skills that typically I would have never tried and now I'll be much more than confident in my future home if there's ever any hanging involved!  

As an artist when it comes to hanging your artwork, we'll do all the manual labour but there's a lot of cost related logistics for you to consider. First you may need to get your work printed if it's a digital piece or an 'edition', so you need the decided the material, with the most popular being paper, aluminium or plastic. This will affect whether it needs framing. Then, will you buying cheap frames or pay for a service? Is your work on canvas board, this one is tricky. Will it be framed, attached to the wall via velcro or nails around the edge which may cause small damage? Do you want your work hung from the frame, string or wire which may stretch depending on the weight of the piece and can affect it's height when hung? 

The easiest way to bypass this is simply working or printing directly onto framed canvas. It can be hung from the frame, it's the easiest thing to hang, it won't get weighed down and you don't need to pay for any framing fees. 

With shows changing so rapidly, opening nights and online promotion is a massive deal. I helped with PR, from organising and creating tumblr posts for each artist and Facebook albums for each show to helping host opening nights, serving drinks and mingling with clientele and the artists themselves. It's astounding the conversations you hear and engage with at art shows. I love how educated but almost other worldly they are. As someone with a great personal interest in art and is largely self taught, it's fantastic to get involved and discuss perspectives. One of my favourite parts of opening events is seeing the happiness in the artists' faces. 

The gallery itself is situated in a very hipster, vintage, quirky and artsy part of London so the people visiting and engaging with the gallery are usually such characters. Before each exhibit we also go out flyering, giving me the opportunity to speak to many employees in other nearby companies and honestly everyone is so lovely and genuinely interested in the art. The fact that our shows do change so often really appeals to many people and they look forward to seeing fresh work every fortnight.  

Our gallery exhibits group shows under an umbrella of themes such as Portraits, Contemporary Painting and Works on Paper to name a few. (We also offer sole hires.) As we hire by 3, 6 or 9 meters and work by application only, a large part of the job is working closely with artists as clients. Whether that's responding to direct applications and enquiries or researching and inviting artists. It's amazing being able to fill my brain with so much inspiring art on a regular basis. When looking for applicants we love emerging artists and being able to help people gain exposure, it's such a great and worthwhile cause. 

Yet there have been so many times that I have found AMAZING artists and haven't been able to contact them as the don't have an email address anywhere. Accessible email addresses are SO IMPORTANT. I cannot stress this enough. A company will not tumblr ask or Facebook message, DM you. It just won't happen. We need records of our interactions and we need to remain professional. The most social media switched on artists I have found are always on instagram. It is the absolute best when an artist has their email address in their instagram bio. 

Social media links are also vital. If you have a website make sure you get social media buttons (e.g. the pink logo circles you see in the top of this blog's side bar), it's the quickest and easier way for others to find your work and get to know you as an artist. When corresponding with a company you may talk to a few gallery assistants or managers, and being able to easily refresh their memory of your work and style is key. Especially when they are working with over 40 confirmed artists very month.

This includes linking up all your social media accounts with each other, not just using your website as a base platform. Use hashtags on instagram and post things regularly. Everywhere. You never know where someone will find your work. When at the show make sure to provide business cards which we can direct potential buyers to if they wish to see more of your work or contact you directly. 

Lastly, the main purpose of an exhibition is to promote your work. Sales may not come right away or even directly from that one show. The idea is to showcase your work and raise your profile. While it is certainly an investment it is often in yourself as an artist rather than in the individual pieces you are exhibiting. In reality it is an art show not really an art shop. Although art does get purchased please don't start asking gallery employees on the opening night if anything has sold as soon as you arrive.

In all I have loved this experience and look forward to building on it. It's so exhilarating to learn the context of art and to help people in such an unconventional way. For me, bringing together my creative interests and people skills is a need for fulfilment in my career and I loved the variety that this role has brought me. 

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Saturday, 26 March 2016

Brunch at Bill's

I first heard of Bill's through other vloggers and have been wanting to go for months and months. While living in the north I came across one in Manchester but just never got around to going. For some reason my husband doesn't 'get' brunch but it's my favourite meal of the day. Often I simply use it as an excuse to have dessert for breakfast, filling up on waffles or sweet pancakes. Breakfast Club's Pancakes and Berries are for sure my favourite, although I'm certainly partial to their Ham So Eggsited pancakes. But with a whole fun packed day ahead of us I knew I needed to opt for a healthier and more filling option. (And a hot chocolate with massives of cream of course!)

We both had a Bill's Breakfast, similar to an English fry up for the meat option or the veggie which looks like below (minus the sausages)  Being the same price I was able to swap my mushrooms for these little sausages which where surprisingly packed with so much flavour. Sourdough toast with avocado, sweet chilli sauce and poached eggs, it was certainly a different choice for me but it really did the job. 

There were so many delicious options to choose from and I was impressed by the decor, atmosphere and shelves of honeycomb, spreads and goodies to buy to take home. Next time I hope to try their peanut butter and banana french toast (with dark chocolate, almond nut butter and strawberries) and their blackberry and caramel apple eton mess and of course waffles! I'm really not joking when I say I have a sweet tooth ;).

Not only did I enjoy the food, I was actually really impressed with the prices. Our main only cost £7.95 and considering an average lunch from Pret costs me £7, I thought it was amazing! Especially considering we're getting both good quality food and a relaxing restaurant experience. 

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Sunday, 20 March 2016

Swedish Hideaway

I'm surprised by how long it's been since my last post yet life has been so full and happy these past few months. But so busy and tiring! Since Christmas I took on a volunteer position (alongside my waitressing job) to gain experience at an east London art gallery which I absolutely love, but it has meant working six day weeks. I've been so blessed to live in such an incredible part of the world and it's my goal to make the most of it. 

With the tax year coming to an end I've been able to book off some 'holiday' days to catch up with friends and simply be with my husband. Giving me the opportunity to finally visit the Swedish cafe Fika on the famous Brick Lane with my Swedish friend and bridesmaid Amelia! The very idea of fika is a beautiful tradition that we would do well to adopt. As I understand it, a fika is an every day event of food and good company. Similar to the British afternoon tea, it often includes biscuits or sweet delicacies but minus the fanfare. It seems an easy going soul nourishing activity. I particularly found this website a good explanation. I believe that the British culture of food is not always positive and I especially have an issue with people working through their lunch breaks. It is so important to recharge, sit, relax, just eat, digest your food and reflect. Often I try to read a book or study my scriptures on the lds phone app or simply stare into space lost in thought. And honestly, I feel so much better for it. So any tradition or culture that preaches the idea of nourishment and recharging, not just by shovelling food down our mouths, the better. 

After walking past the cafe multiple times and checking out both their website and instagram I was so excited to go with a Swedish person and was secretly scared that it wouldn't be legit enough! But she loved it. The decor alone was like stepping into a cosy woodland fairytale full of illustrations and cushions. My favourite aspect was the branches wrapped with fairy lights suspended from the ceiling. Which apparently is a very common practice found in homes during the darker months. The whole place has been so thoughtfully considered, with fabric drapes or curtains used to hide the toilet corridor and keep out the cold from the roof terrace. Which, let's be honest. I sneakily snuck up to have a little look. And oh. It is lovely. A tiny little garden space that feels like home. Make sure you have a look. 

We of course ordered hot chocolate, the cream on which was divine. Followed by mains of Gravadiax (cured salmon on a bed of salad) and a Swedish meatball melt. While I would have preferred bigger portions for the price (London and tings) I found the quality of meat to be very high and delicious which impressed me as my taste for beef has been seriously disintegrating recently. We even had a dessert of Kladdkaka (chocolate cake) and a Maple Syrup Dome. Again very small but lovely. 

After stalking their instagram account I was disappointed not to be served my pudding on a quirky Donna Wilson plate as they seem to at their other venue on Roman Road (a much more out the way place for me) but I loved the cosy, hideaway atmosphere. When we arrived at midday it was almost empty, with a few more tables joining us later on. Absolutely refreshing for London. It was just such a happy tucked away experience and I look forward to returning!

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