What I studied at school
- AS Level: Chemistry, Maths, English Literature, Art and Design
- A Level: Maths, English Literature, Art and Design
- Art and Design Foundation Diploma
I didn’t have a lot of guidance from family about having a creative career, so they were hesitant about supporting these choices. I was very academic, so they really wanted me to have a career in something more stable or traditional such as medicine, law or accounting.
In the end, I made these choices independently with the support of my art teachers and other staff. I knew I wanted to experience art school and be able to explore ideas and be creative on my own terms—something that I knew many people don’t get to experience.
What I studied after school
After going to college in Manchester, I moved to Leeds to study Fine Art at the University of Leeds. It was a great course, that was both academic and creative. It had lots of well established art historians teaching seminars, such as feminist scholars like Griselda Pollock.
I felt the course’s mix of history of art, cultural studies, and a creative studio practice was a good basis for a career as an artist and also gave me the knowledge I’d need to to move in to the gallery and museum sector.
I think having this broad spectrum enabled me to realise I enjoyed the mix of both, and this inspired me to take my education further, so a few years down the line I decided I would study a Masters in Curating at Chelsea College of Arts in London.
My career path
In some ways, there is no set training path to working in gallery learning and participation. It’s about gaining skills and experiences that are transferable.
From graduation, it took eight years to build up my experience to get my first salaried job in the arts as the Education Officer at Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool. In that time I worked in retail and education, volunteered for other galleries and ran my own artistic and curatorial projects. I saw all this as invaluable training to take on the responsibility of an art gallery’s education programme.
Luckily I was able to live cheaply with my parents back in Manchester. This enabled me to volunteer at galleries and festivals across the North West, helping me learn about the infrastructure in the arts before moving to London.
I realised I didn’t want to be juggling part-time work with other projects, and I decided to apply for a teaching assistant role in a school, eventually becoming an arts technician. Working in a school was a defining point in my career, as I became passionate about engaging with children and young people to ensure they were accessing arts and culture. The skills and knowledge I gained working in the education sector helped me to get my job as a gallery Education Officer.