In five words, describe your place in the sector.
Picture devotee, professional organiser, nerd.
What first drew you to the sector i.e. Do you have a particular memory of a moment that got you hooked?
I have quite vivid memories of visiting Auckland Art Gallery when I was a child. When a major exhibition was on my mum would sometimes take me out of school for the day to go see it. I loved the occasion of it - going into the city, strolling around the galleries, looking at great works of art and having frothy hot chocolate at a café on High Street. Museums and galleries have always been places where I felt comfortable. They are where I go to when I need visual stimulation or just time to reflect and reenergise.
I ended up studying photography at art school but when I graduated I felt a bit at a loss about what I wanted to do and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be an artist. I ended up doing the typical NZ OE and living in London doing admin jobs. I decided to return home and study because I wanted to have a career rather than just a job and working in a museum or gallery seemed like a natural fit.
What challenges have you faced in your career so far?
Going back to University to do my Masters in Museums Studies did put me at a disadvantage financially. After working full time for 8 years it was hard to adjust to being a student again and not being able to save and buy and do the things that I was used to. However, I think that taking time off between my Bachelor and Master degrees was really important for me. I got to experience and see the some of the world, I had a lot more confidence in working situations and I was more focused on what I needed to do to get the job that I wanted.
Has anything or anyone in particular provided you with support?
I did my first university placement with the art team at Te Papa and I am forever grateful to Lissa Mitchell, Abigail Timmins, Anita Schrafft and Anna Brooks, who were really generous in sharing their knowledge and insights. They provided a supportive environment for someone who was very green to the museum sector and having that great first experience reassured me that museums were where I wanted to be. My fellow museum studies classmates - Nina, Elspeth, Georgie and Coralie - continue to be a source of support and inspiration. I remember someone saying when I was at university that your fellow classmates will end up being one of your most valuable professional networks and I have definitely found this to be true. I can’t not mention Conal McCarthy who continues to be the biggest champion and advocate for his students.
What do you think people at your own level bring to the sector?
I find this really hard to answer because I feel that what we bring to the sector isn’t inherently defined by our level within it. My first thought was to answer that we are passionate, driven, full of ideas and adaptable but I’ve witnessed this with people who have worked in the sector for a long time and experienced the opposite with some people new to the sector.
What is a positive change you would like to see in the sector?
More paid and permanent work opportunities. I’m fortunate that I am in a permanent job that I really enjoy but when I started out there was definitely an insinuation that to get a job you would first need to volunteer, take low paid opportunities, live in a small town or exist on intermittent contracts before you could get anywhere. Most people can’t afford to do this and it could limiting who gets to work in the sector. If we want more diversity then this really needs to change.
What is your karaoke song?
I am completely tone deaf, but have been known to belt out a terrible version of Abba’s Waterloo.