Career pathways: Lead Exhibitions Officer

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Q. Who are you?
My name is Alice Workman, I’m the Lead Exhibitions Officer at Southampton City Council.
Q. What does you job involve?
Lead exhibitions officer is in charge of the exhibition programme in the city art gallery as well as the museums, as well as putting up the collection displays as well.
Q. What is your day-to-day role?
Day to day involves organising loans and transport, insurance for exhibitions, working on labels, text panels, accompanying guides to exhibitions, through to hanging exhibitions to the practical side of actually installing works.
Q. Which departments do you work with?
I have two exhibition assistants who help with all the practical arrangements, and assist with a lot of the administration as well. I work with the education team on organising outreach activities to coincide with the exhibitions. I also work with the business development manager to do the press and marketing of the exhibition, and the lead curatorial officer who looks after the collection here at Southampton, and I communicate with him about what works we could possibly put out in the gallery or exhibitions, and he’ll know if anything’s going out on loan. I’ll also work with the conservators who condition check works coming in for exhibitions and work going out again.
Q. What was your career path?
I was always interested in the arts, artists and art galleries, as my grandfather was an artist and so was my great grandfather, so being around him really go me interested in a gallery or being an artist, so I went and did a fine art degree at Dartington College of Arts and after that, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, so I wrote to a lot of galleries and arts organisations to get some work experience and I ended up getting some work experience for an organisation called NewArtCentre Roche Court. This is about nine years ago, and I work for them for about five weeks at an Antony Gormly exhibition, and after that was over the offered me a full time job as a gallery assistant, which involved all the day-to-day admin of running the exhibition, behind the exhibition, looking after the public, and general office duties, from there I worked my way up through the NewArtsCentre. By the time I left I was the gallery director which involved curating and organising exhibitions, the gallery resources and commercials, I sold and placed works within the collections, and during that time I also looked after things like photography and press and marketing. Because it was such a small organisation with a tiny team you were able to get involved in every aspect of the gallery, so I learnt a lot over those years, and it gave me good standing when coming here.
Q. What’s good about your job?
The things I love most about my job is working with artists and working with the collection here at Southampton City Art Gallery. It also is a fantastic space and very versatile because there are about eight or nine different rooms within the gallery. I also love organising things and working towards an event or a completed exhibition with a whole team of people. I get a real buzz out of that atmosphere and that environment.
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