Gaining New Knowledge: My Internship Experience by Nikola Sweet

I am a third year Creative Industries student at QUT and it is required of every student to find a placement within their disciplines field.  My field is art history and I had to complete 80-100 hours of work within this field.   I have over the past two years worked in a therapeutic art area; and when given the opportunity to go out and find an internship I wanted to experience another side of art.  I was inspired to seek an internship at an art gallery to develop a further and deeper understanding of what happens behind an artwork.  I wanted to know what inspires an artist, how the artist sells their work, how is the artwork sold, how does a commercial gallery run? I had so many questions about the general workings of a gallery and my answers came from Red Hill Gallery.  Where I have been taken under the wing of the lovely art consultants of Red Hill Gallery, who have shown me the ropes and helped me understand how a commercial gallery is run.The main aim of this internship is to provide students with the opportunity to learn and experience their field of practice through ‘hands on’ experience.  Within my proposed role as ‘gallery assistant’ I aided with the day to day running of the art gallery.  I came into this internship with many assumptions and miss conceived ideas of how an art gallery is run.  I soon learnt that there is much more than meets the eye.  I have worked within retail before and thought that a commercial art gallery would almost be the same, but within the first day I realized I was very wrong.  There is so much more attention to detail.  As a costumer you would walk in and see a glass display and think it is lovely and goes well with the room.  However, you probably don’t realize that it took an hour to find the right glass sculptures, 3 different opinions and a lot of ‘ummm it’s just missing something’.  This is one experience I will never forget, it is worth being patient and taking your time with organizing the layout of a room as it is completely worthwhile to see an artist’s work displayed at its best.

I also leant that within a commercial gallery there is a different quality of knowledge.  Within a general retail store you might sell a few general products and as a sales consultant you are meant to know what the product is and how it would be suited for someone.  This is completely different for art, you have to know the art work, you have to know the artist, the year it was made, the medium, what inspired the artist, how the artist made the artwork.  As an art consultant you are expected by customers to know this and be able to talk extensively about the art work. Sumit Kati (2010, p. 42) states that for any retail or commercial business every member of the team must have extensive knowledge of the product, the organization of the company and the upcoming trends. Red Hill Gallery has extended my knowledge greatly by teaching me the numerous aspects of art as a product, the inner workings of an organization and what the new and upcoming trends are.  However, I think this is an area that I still need to improve in as there are so many different artists and artworks within the gallery. The art consultants that work with in the gallery all have the mantra that art is for everyone, that art should be a reflection of yourself and your lifestyle and these consultants are experts and will help you find the right artwork for you (Campbell-Ryder, 2011).  They ensure that you enjoy viewing the artwork in a relaxed and professional environment. I have learnt over my two months as a gallery assistant with Red Hill Gallery, that there is much more to selling art.  These are only just a few things I’ve learnt during my time at Red Hill Gallery.  I came with barely knowing anything and now I am walking away with an experience I will never forget and will surely help me with my future endeavours.

Reference List Campbell-Ryder, M. 2011. 'The Art of Hanging Out.' Accessed September 15, 2012. Kati, Sumit. 2010. Retail Selling Skills. Mumbai: Global Media .