Late nights, early mornings : student case study

The University of Kent Work Experience Bursary covered the cost of my train tickets into London whilst completing my student placement at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in which I worked with Curator Matt Williams in the Exhibitions department. This financial help was massively helpful as without it, I would have had to work extra shifts at my paid job in order to cover the additional expense as in my case, the placement was unpaid.

As a postgraduate student studying Fine Art, I am keen for any experience within the art world which every year is saturated with new students making it increasingly difficult to find opportunities. I would love a career working with the people and social engagement meaning that working for such a successful gallery was really exciting. During the three months I spent there, I worked on a number of different exhibitions and events and was given increasingly varied tasks, which were challenging and rewarding.

Exhibitions that I contributed to were Eloise Hawser: Lives on Wire and Zhang Ding: Enter the Dragon, in addition to researching possible artists for exhibitions that they are considering for next year’s program. For Eloise’s show I transcribed her interview with Matt Williams and helped with the set-up for one of her accompanying performances, which was a new experience that I was keen to be able to participate in. My experience with Zhang Ding’s exhibition was quite different as Eloise’s show opened just as I began whereas Zhang Ding’s show wasn’t due to open till shortly after my placement finished. This meant I was more involved in the research during the planning stages. In particular, it was my role to research and write short bios on the twenty-six performers that would be accompanying the exhibition over a series of music events. This research included finding their appropriate social media handles. This information was then published on the ICA website in order to help promote the events.

However, the primary project that I worked on throughout my placement was an event taking place in Birmingham in partnership with Selfridges called ICA Offsite: Digbeth in which the ICA took over a disused industrial space in Digbeth in which they staged a temporary exhibition and music event featuring among others, Fergadelic, Ben Sansbury, Ashley Williams, Tyrone Lebon and Tim & Barry aka Just Jam. I was heavily involved with a number of aspects of the event with my tasks including researching the history of the site itself and the artists involved, liaising with artists, drafting project summaries, sourcing quotes for a complex range of accommodation in which eighteen people would need apartment accommodation, each for different durations during a six day period. I also spent time researching and writing to all of the local universities and higher education colleges in the area in order to create interest in the event locally.

The great variety of tasks that I have completed during this placement have been challenging and rewarding throughout. The placement enabled me to hone skills such as researching and allowed me to be involved in things that I had not been able to do before. I have increased confidence in my abilities and it has confirmed my interest in working with people as I move forward in my prospective career once I have finished my studies.

Sophie is studying for an MA in Fine Art.


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