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Curatorial Intern Ollie Noble reports…

by Annabel Clarke

During July 2018, recent University of Warwick graduate Ollie Noble undertook a curatorial internship with us. He reports back on his experience. 

I don’t think there has been a more exciting time to be in Coventry.

During my time with Coventry biennial, I saw a city that not only hopes to, but is working hard to grow into a place filled with art and life. I met people from all areas, from the council, artists as well as local citizens who truly believe in the ability of the City of Culture title to invigorate and inspire.

I first contacted Ryan Hughes, Coventry Biennial’s Artistic Director, when I was organising my own exhibition last Spring. Ryan interviewed me about it for New Art West Midlands and afterwards, he kindly invited me to do a curatorial internship with the Biennial. I was just finishing up my final year studying Maths and Physics at Warwick University and I jumped at the opportunity.

Throughout July 2018, I worked with the Biennial team and got involved in a huge variety of tasks. I was given the chance to meet artists from all across the West Midlands during a series of studio visits. Prior to the internship and due to my science background, I had had very little opportunity for face-time with working artists, and it was fascinating to hear their stories as well as their views on the role of art. From exploits of drinking with Russian astronauts in Paris, to sharp self-criticism, the conversations were a wonderfully eclectic reminder of why I am such a fan of the art world.

It was also great to gain an insight into the running of an arts organisation. These are the sorts of the skills you can’t learn from a book or formal course of study. With introductions to making exhibitions, event planning and hands on experience of gallery installation, I can see this experience becoming very useful for future projects or positions.

Finally, it was incredible to chair a discussion with Birmingham-based artist Dale Hipkiss on the final day of my internship. The trust shown in me by Ryan was amazing and something I am very grateful for. It was a wonderful to be able to develop my public speaking skills and an honour to lead a discussion with the local artistic community.

Having completed the internship, I’m still not entirely sure what I would like to do next…

As I have already hopped from science to art, I don’t feel the need to focus purely on one area. At Coventry Biennial I discovered a real joy for engaging with artists and using art to invigorate communities. Having now returned to London, I am eager to start a project space in my home town of Twickenham.

Whilst the search for space has only just started, I feel sure that if I am able to achieve even a fraction of what Coventry Biennial and other artist-led organisations in Coventry have, then I will be satisfied.

In conclusion, I have seen that Coventry Biennial is a festival that has been born out of the city, its inhabitants and, maybe even more importantly, it is a festival with the city running through its veins. I  am incredibly excited to return to the city as a visitor in 2019 and 2021.

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by Annabel Clarke

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