Symposium- Laura Smith and Oliver Udy

24th February 2016


Laura Smith

Oliver Udy

This was the symposium I’ve been most looking forward to. Laura Smith is the curator at the Tate Museum in St Ives. Although I knew little about her before the talk, I knew she’d be able to enlighten me on what being a curater entailed and how I would go about starting a career in this field. Also, Oliver Udy would be talking about presenting your work online and how to use it as a successful tool. Although I am not looking into making money off my photography, I think I will still pursue it as a hobby and would like to have a place to publish my work.

Laura Smith

What the job entails:

Laura Smith is employed at the Tate Museum in St Ives as a curator and works with, not only Photography, but also Paintings, Sculptures and Film pieces. It can take up to five years for an exhibition to be ready for public viewing due to the extensive research it takes to both decide on which artist to feature and acquire the art work itself. After this extensive period, a two week time slot is given to physically hang the work and prepare the space for public viewing. The Tate specifically does three exhibitions a year with varying artists from different eras. Another aspect of the curating position is creating the posters for exhibitions and liaising with artists to decide how they want to be represented. Along with this, Smith mentioned that she sometimes writes the explanatory texts that accompany the art work on the wall. All of the above interest me greatly as well as the physical laying out of the exhibition. This job allows creativity, but creativity with other peoples work rather than my own.

How to get there:

Whilst studying for her BA in Glasgow, Smith set up multiple mini exhibtions that featured her peer’s works, thus getting experience as a small time, freelance curator. Once studying for an MA at Falmouth, she applied for the Arts Council England Grant (see web link below) and set up her first major exhibition and invited many important people such as the artistic director from the Tate. He strongly advised for her to then go complete an MA at the Royal College of Art London in curating. This course was to do with one major aspect of curating - working for an institution and curating exhibitions for viewing purposes only. Goldsmiths University’s curating MA focuses more on the commercial side and sending the student down that path. At present I lean more towards the exhibiting for an institution but I am not ruling anything out. A good place to start after finishing further education is to go work in a gallery. Any form of job that allows you to be in that environment, in particular assisting a curator, is a good first step. Experience and enthusiasm seem to be the key elements for working in this area.

Karst is a Plymouth based gallery that could be a possible chance for experience whilst I’m still in the city (see link below). I plan to contact them and see if there is any availability for volunteering.

Oliver Udy

Websites for work:

Oliver’s top tips:

Sink your website work with Instagram to reach wider audiences.

Separate personal and professional images.

No clutter on your website, keep it simple and neat.

Make sure it is easy to contact you through your online sites.

Notes from the talks