#1: ‘Course of Life’

This is an introduction to a series of blog posts that will form a career bio of sorts. As I transition my career from commercial photography to the art museum sector, a straight CV doesn’t do justice to the relevant experience I’ve gained along the way. Let’s face it, CV’s never provide the full picture—we only ever include the highlights and the accolades! There is plenty of value in the bits we leave out—the not-so-good experiences and even the failures. My journey has been far from linear, so I feel it calls for a more biographical approach.

My entry into the Master of Art Art Curatorship course that I’m currently studying has been unconventional. Instead of the prerequisite degree in art history, I have over twenty years of experience in the photographic industry. To this, I’ve added a fine arts degree to legitimise my art photography, which has always coexisted alongside paid photography work.

In late 2019, I was sitting in a cafe completing a job application (for a photographer role at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA)). This was not my first attempt to gain employment in the sector. I got talking to the person next to me, Helen. The cafe is a social and often noisy place; I find that I can focus here on written tasks if I’m struggling to avoid the distractions of home. Coincidentally, Helen mentioned that her daughter had studied a masters in art conservation at Melbourne Uni and was now a conservator at the NGA—the place I was applying. I explained to Helen that I have all this photography experience: I’ve worked in high-end studios as a photographic assistant, I know how to light and photograph products for advertising; that it’s very similar to photographing art objects, but I had difficulty convincing those in the museum sector that these skills are comparative and transferable.

I later looked up the art conservation course that Helen had mentioned. Maybe this was a way to transfer and legitimise my skills. As well as art conservation, I discovered that Melbourne Uni also offers an art curatorship stream. I never got the NGA job, but I enrolled in the art curatorship course for the following year. I am now more than halfway through and recently got my foot in the door with a six-month contract, working on a digitisation project for Bendigo Art Gallery and AMaGa Victoria.

During my time at Bendigo Art Gallery, I recommended the implementation of a Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) and prepared the Gallery for the transition. I also took the opportunity to engage with staff at many of the major collecting institutions in Australia to determine best practices around digitisation-photography and colour management. With this knowledge, I designed guidelines and protocols to improve the standards and workflows for future digitisation at the Gallery.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: