"I chose the MFA Curating programme because its content and teaching style supports curating as a creative practice, in addition to a profession. Moreover, independently initiated and institutional styles of curating are equally encouraged. I was aware that the programme was deeply rooted within the London art community and I wanted to gain both formal and informal opportunities to immerse myself within the local scene. At the same time, the programme also appealed because it maintains strong connections with high profile artists and art institutions throughout the world – that combination of local and global is uniquely Goldsmiths.
I look back on my time on the course really fondly. It’s such a unique experience to be able to push your curatorial knowledge and practice to its utmost potential – and to feel supported in doing that through your relationships with staff and peers. I particularly enjoyed the collaborative learning components and the opportunities our tutors gave us to steer the course in directions driven by us – the students.
I also loved the meaningful connections with artists, curators, writers and many others that I made as a result of the course. I particularly enjoyed meeting and studying alongside artists in the combined lectures and tutorials across the MFA streams. These connections have lasted well beyond the actual time of the course and have provided me with opportunities which continue to unfold. For example, this past year I have been working on a research and development project with the Serpentine Galleries – an opportunity which came about because of the relationships and expertise I developed as part of the course.
Since graduating I set up a multi-disciplinary creative enterprise called Guest Work Agency. The name of the enterprise is a nod to the first freelance curating enterprise – the Agency for Intellectual Guest Work – which was initiated by the forward-thinking Swiss curator Harald Szeemann in the late 1970s. The traditional artist-gallery-collector model has undergone immense change in the 21st century and Guest Work was created to enable the industry to better adjust to those changes.
We provide a broad range of intermediate services to artists, galleries, collectors and others in the art industry – from advising on new organisations and collaborative projects to initiating our own exhibitions and programs. I have also maintained my previously-gained qualifications as a lawyer, so that Guest Work offers legal advice on all things art-related. We are also committed to nurturing the next generation of individual collectors and arts organisations, who I think are absolutely critical for the long-term sustainability of the industry. Our understanding of the evolving nature of curating and the broader notion of the curatorial underpins everything that we do. We are not disruptors. Rather, we are advisors, facilitators, partners, collaborators and enablers.
I’ve also had two kids, which has changed my opportunities and abilities to work within a pre-set institutional setting immensely. Guest Work is something that has grown organically alongside me being a primary carer for my now 2 and 4-year-old children. I still can’t quite explain to my 4-year-old what it is that I do, because I don’t work in a typical ‘office’, nor is there a single word which conveniently sums up the entire range of projects that I do - but it’s a little dilemma that I’ve actually come to be quite proud of. I can happily attribute my confidence to not want or need to fit inside a pre-set box to Goldsmiths.
In some of my final one-on-one sessions with my tutors, I remember the feedback I was given – that I should go off and run my own gallery. At the time I remember thinking, well that’s not really me. I couldn’t see myself running a gallery. But now that 6 years have passed and Guest Work is on the way up I realise that I did actually take on board that feedback, although not as literally as I thought. It might not be a physical gallery space, but I’m definitely off running my own business.
The course and the tutors encouraged me to be entrepreneurial, to do my own thing and not rely on others to create opportunities for me. They encouraged me to see my prior training and work experience as a lawyer as a complement to, rather than diversion from, my work as a curator. Prior to the course I had never quite managed to successfully combine the two halves of my professional interests – the art and the law. The course strongly influenced my ability to combine the two areas in practice.
I would advise current students to maximise every opportunity to full immerse yourself in the experience. Make friends and keep up with your peers when you graduate – you never know when your paths might cross once again!"