Grace was a student with the History of Art at Warwick who specialised in contemporary art and has forged a career in the field ever since. She worked at the Mead Gallery on campus and the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham during her time at Warwick. Grace is now Assistant Curator at the Whitechapel Gallery, London.
"I realise that I had made the decision to be a curator of contemporary art in my mid-teens, and after school I pursued a foundation course in fine art, but when I saw that my main interests were in studying the subject, rather than creating work, I applied to the Warwick History of Art course. I was attracted by the modules on modern and contemporary art, and by the fact that I could choose my own pathway, and specialise in this area.
"At Warwick I developed skills in working with other students as a team, and gained valuable experience through doing presentations. Writing a dissertation allowed me to investigate the theoretical basis of my chosen topic, with guidance from my supervisor. All of these things are still proving useful to me in my current job.
"I worked at the Mead Gallery on campus and was able to get an internship at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham during my time at Warwick, where I met artists and curators who I am still in touch with. After graduating, I undertook a curatorial traineeship at Chisenhale Gallery in the east end of London. This was a particularly exciting experience as the gallery's mission is to produce ambitious solo commissions by emerging artists and I was lucky enough to work with a number of artists who are now highly established practitioners. Following this, a traineeship in the Development department at the Contemporary Art Society provided invaluable experience and insight into funding and fundraising. After this, I worked as Exhibitions Assistant at a newly-established commercial gallery specialising in video and new media art, which gave me experience working closely with artists to develop and realise innovative shows.
"I realised that I need further study to advance my career, so I took the two-year Royal College of Art MA in Curating Contemporary Art. I continued to work alongside as Acquisitions and Programme Assistant at Artist Rooms, a collection of modern and contemporary art owned by Tate and National Galleries of Scotland, which entailed building relationships with regional museums and galleries to develop monographic exhibitions of works selected from the collection. After graduating I had the chance to widen my experience and to travel by moving to New York to become the Studio Manager to French artist Camille Henrot, and worked on a large-scale solo exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris in 2017 and its subsequent international tour. Following this, I returned to the UK to work in the curatorial team at Kettle's Yard in Cambridge and then got my job at the Whitechapel Gallery in January 2020, where I work on a series of contemporary and historic exhibitions and commissions and their accompanying publications.
"My advice to people starting out is to meet as many people as you can, forge networks, and build relationships. It's vital to keep up with current exhibitions and visit artists' studios either online or in person so that you become knowledgeable about your chosen area, and above all, retain your determination to become a curator."