What I studied at school
I studied English, Maths and Physics at A-level and Design and Technology at GCSE.
I was an all-rounder and good at both arts and science subjects so I attempted to do a mix. English was always my favourite subject, and this is the one I still draw on today in terms of how to effectively use and interpret language. I never took art seriously at school, which I regret, as it would have helped me a great deal given where I have ended up. That said, not studying art didn’t hold me back from studying architecture as many courses prefer technical skill. It depends where you go.
What I studied after school
I went to Cardiff University (Welsh School of Architecture). In the beginning I wanted to be an architect, and a formal university education is still the way to do that. But the experience (especially the first three years) is actually very broad. We learned about history, philosophy, economics and the environment, as well as construction and design. For me a university education was most valuable for learning to think critically and analyse things that previously I just accepted as being as they are.
I trained for 5 years. In architecture, you do an undergraduate degree (3 years) then a postgraduate degree (2 years). At Cardiff, the fourth year is spent working in practice while doing some coursework. There is a final part which leads to qualification, but I haven’t taken this. I decided to move into journalism and curation instead.
My career path
So I started studying architecture, and working in architects’ offices as an assistant. In 2008 there was an economic slowdown and lots of building projects went on hold. That’s when I decided to apply for an internship at the Architects’ Journal. I knew from school and university that I had good writing skills, and wanted to see if I could still use my architecture education in a new way. That internship led to me getting a job at Icon magazine as a junior editor. I was really excited when I got that job as I knew my career would be very different from then on. At Icon I learned much more about craft and design as I had to begin writing about it straight away. In 2015, I came to work at The Aram Gallery as curator. I had no prior experience of curation, but had a good network of contacts from journalism, plus spatial design and organisation skills from my university education. In swapping to journalism then curation, I’ve been very fortunate that certain people have seen my potential despite not having a formal education in the subject. I’ve been allowed to prove myself once in the door.