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On Art, Galleries and Interning

Author: Brittany Robson, Communications and Relationships Intern

Nearing the end of my internship at the Dowse, I want to discuss my time here and muse over my experience.

As a person in institutionalised education for seventeen of my 21 years, I find little more satisfying than being able to work in a ‘real’ workplace environment, one that doesn’t consist of me cross-legged on my bed, hunched over my laptop and surrounded by crinkled pages of text and images, colourful with lines drawn with felt highlighter.

The beautiful and ethereal work of Maureen Lander, I love the way they appear to be weightless and floating- Iorangi I (2012), Iorangi II (2012),  Wai o te Marama (2004), Nga Roimata o Ranginui (2015)

The beautiful and ethereal work of Maureen Lander, I love the way they appear to be weightless and floating- Iorangi I (2012), Iorangi II (2012), Wai o te Marama (2004), Nga Roimata o Ranginui (2015)

My internship at The Dowse has provided me with an experience that sees the fruit of my labour placed outside of the simple exchange of an essay that travels from me… to my lecturer… and back to me again. As I near the end of my internship, and subsequently, my study towards my bachelor degree, I think it’s apt to reflect on my experience.

I am a third year student at Victoria University of Wellington, studying a BA in Art History, a degree of which I have enjoyed immensely because it exposed me to so many incredible concepts, theories, artists and artworks. Alongside two art history papers, I am completing an internship at The Dowse as a Marketing and Communications Intern. I was drawn to The Dowse internship as a placement after looking into the course and seeing a video of 2017’s trimester 2 intern, Nelson, discussing his time here.

Studying art history, I have always been drawn to working in an art gallery setting, frankly, for the reason to be surrounded by art on a daily basis. Stemming from this, through my experience volunteering for almost 2 years at the Adam Art Gallery, I found my admiration for art galleries stems not just from their role as homes for beautiful things, but also from the process of uniting the public with the many concepts/theories/ideas/thoughts that art provokes.

Of course the main purpose of an art gallery is to provide a space for artwork to be seen and enjoyed by the public, but in this fast-paced and image-saturated climate we live in, I want to note that meaningful engagement with visual content can be difficult. I see the role of a marketing manager for an art gallery as one that helps remind people about art and encourage this type of meaningful engagement.

I have been coming in to The Dowse office every Thursday to undertake various tasks that are associated with the marketing of the art museum, Supporting Alex Grace, the marketing and relationships manager at The Dowse. I have written many a Facebook post, a skill which took me a little while to get my head around, with the succinct and snappy writing style not being one that I am familiar with (I’m sure this is evident if you’re reading this spiel). I also get to write blogs like this one, and another that is still in the works. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to write about topics that I’ve come to on my own accord, instead of answering a question prescribed by my university tutor.

Aside from social media and blogging, my main project is helping out with the planning and behind-the-scenes work on a communications hui, aiming to make the arts more available to the public by expanding coverage to reach new audiences in a changing media landscape. Connection: The Arts Communication Hui is a day-long hui that will bring together arts marketers, communicators and PR professionals from throughout Aotearoa New Zealand to open the conversation and generate discussion surrounding increasing the exposure of artists, art-making and events, in conventional reporting and media outlets. The journalism, media and communications industries hold the power of exposure and Connection hopes to harness these links to shape the discussion of art for a connected future for Aotearoa New Zealand.

I am so proud to be a part of the organisation of such an important event that aligns my love for art and connecting art works, new ideas and people together. The status of the arts in our society appears could be seen to be declining; funding re-allocation and budget cuts at my own university have seen the Art History department suffering in quite a direct way. You can’t force a love of art on people, but you can encourage it, reminding them that there is a wealth of new ideas waiting to be absorbed at their local gallery.

Here’s me in front of a couple of my favourite works on display at the moment by Vita Cochran, Colour Moves (2016) and The New World of Needlepoint (2016).

Here’s me in front of a couple of my favourite works on display at the moment by Vita Cochran, Colour Moves (2016) and The New World of Needlepoint (2016).

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