For my work experience I looked at the different roles in the art industry I would be interested in. This was split between working in a gallery and teaching art. This is because at the moment I am considering a career as either an educator and/or an artist. So to enhance both my knowledge and my C.V I split my two weeks work placement between the New Ashgate Gallery in Farnham and ArtyTimes, a holiday art workshop, in Surrey for children aged 8-13.
Week 1 New Ashgate Gallery
I had the opportunity to work at the New Ashgate Gallery, Farnham in two different roles. The first five days of my work experience included working in the gallery chatting to the public and selling works from paintings and ceramics to prints and jewelry. The next part of the experience was setting up and curating the new exhibition at the gallery.
I organized the first part of the work experience by contacting Alice, one of the Arts consultants at the gallery. For the second part of the work experience I was invited back to work at the gallery for two days to set up the new exhibitions comprising of the works of artists Fiona Millais, Sonia Rollo and Myung Nam.My role for the first five days was that of a gallery assistant. The gallery was extremely quite for most of the week with only a few members of the public visiting; despite this we still sold a few paintings by the artist Barry Patterson. The skills I gained from this part of the work experience where interaction with the public, sales skills, the organisation of behind the scenes and funding.
My presence at the gallery during the installation of the exhibitions was useful both for the gallery and myself. I learnt the requirements for professionally setting up an commercial exhibition and had the opportunity to interact and work alongside the artists. We began with the takedown of the last exhibition and repainting. This was similar to my experiences with the set up of exhibitions within the studio at university, however the set up for the ceramic artist Myung Nam’s exhibition was more challenging, as the requirements for the multiple pieces all had to be wall mounted with invisible hanging.
The setting up for Fiona Millais’ exhibition Viewpoint was a lot easier. I helped in the curation as there was a selection of thirty canvases and only twenty would be hung. With the artist, both art consultants and gallery director we slowly started grouping the abstract painting into groups of three. This process took most of the afternoon as the artist became quite particular about the groupings and number. I felt that both my ideas and comments were valued in this process which gave me confidence when choosing my own work for university exhibitions.
My first week at the gallery was more about interacting with the public and selling the paintings. It was interesting to see how the art consultants sell pieces for £1,000+ by persuading to choose an expensive piece but also offering an installment scheme to pay the sales price off. I also curated a mini print exhibition during this week as the gallery sells these alongside major pieces of work, so there is a range of art at different prices to suit all members of the public.
During my time at the New Ashgate Gallery I gained lots of new experiences and also a few contacts. Furthermore I learnt the best time to do a selling exhibition is in October/ November time as the summer is never a popular time to sell work. Having a detailed gallery plan showing where each piece of work is to be placed helps when there is lots of work to set up. Interacting with artists before hanging their work is also important as sometimes the gallery plan of where the work is to be placed does not work.
Work Experience Week Two: ArtyTimes Workshops
I contacted ArtyTimes, a local company that provides art educational workshops, over the school holidays for children aged 8-13. I emailed the founder Helen Rudford, we met and she offered me an opportunity to work with her for two, three day workshops to gain experience in this field of work. This proved to be a very interesting experience, which was completely different to working in a gallery. My main role during this was being a group leader for the children aged 10-11 and I had the responsibility of looking after fourteen children. The days were quite structured similar to a school, but the difference was that instead of having a set timetable the children could use any form of media from clay and painting to textiles and collage. This gave the children a chance to be creative. All of the projects we did were very open to self-expression and I was encouraged that each child could pursue what interested them within each media. If we were sculpting with clay for example, I would teach them all how to use the clay correctly and show them samples of work in case they were stuck for ideas. The emphasis was about creating their own sculpture with help, advice and encouragement from me. Having different abilities in the same group was hard at first due to the fact that there were a few well accomplished drawers and painters, as well as some less confident ones, but after they found which media they were good at everyone started achieving good pieces of work. The course was in Panshill Park in Surrey which is a 18th Century Landscape Garden within 100 acres of the Surrey countryside, which meant we could go into these gardens and draw from life.
The main things I learnt was that to teach art to children requires lots of patience and that sometimes by leaving them without too many interruptions they were able to create interesting art work. The day needs to be well structured before hand as without this children become restless and do not achieve any new skills. Since completing this work experience I was given a paid Job working as a workshop leader, which helps me to continue my learning with art and education and also widens my professional practice.
Though both experiences were very different, each had different value and achieved the purpose I wanted by increasing my exposure to future work opportunities which will look good on my C.V and also gives me confidence to choose a career path in the future.