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Curating my own future as part of The Late Shows 2018: How your course can help your future prospects

Last week I held my own art exhibition at BALTIC 39 in Newcastle Upon Tyne. I had no previous experience in art or exhibitions, my only entry level in this world was the varied visits to BALTIC, where I found myself inspired to one day showcase my work in hope that someone in my position would emote the same feelings that I had. I still frequent the BALTIC, but as someone who now has the experience of having seen how influential my postgraduate course is in giving me the confidence to approach these opportunities with confidence and clarity.

This is quite a long story but I will try to summarise and gloss over the main points. I currently study a postgraduate course in mass communications management, a course that has various different modules that make up the foundations of my study. Each module is varied, offering different types of experiences/requirements that help teach you various topics surrounding your chosen subject. Many of the modules here felt similar to the ones completed as apart of my undergraduate, where journalism and the media as a whole were at the forefront. The cultural management module was an anomaly.

The best way to describe this module is to compare it to a workshop of some kind, where one is actively encouraged to interact with others in the class, as well as provide creative input that would otherwise be shot down as rude or null and void in the context of the lecture. This class was made up of various different courses that all fit into a management sector. Every week we would have a different class speaker who would come in and talk about their work in the role as a cultural manager. One week we had a speaker from The New Bridge Project: an art organisation that facilitates art spaces as well as collaborates with various artists across the North East in a wide array of different disciplines.

Rebecca (speaker) discussed all the different aspects about her job as well as what New Bridge offers artists. At this time I wanted to create a strict travel magazine based off of my final project for my undergraduate, a magazine titled Pala that would explore escape in its theme and design. Rebecca’s presentation inspired me to change Pala into a magazine that encompasses all kinds of different themes, and that it should not limit itself by one set topic.

Feeling inspired, I spoke with our lecturer Julie after the lecture to tell her of my idea and if there was anything that she could help me with in terms of getting my name out there, as the more known you are the more likely you are to bring in creative collaborators for the magazine. Julie put me in contact with people from The Crack magazine, as well as Rebecca of The New Bridge Project to see if they could offer me some advice/confirmation that my ideas were on the right track

I met with the creative director of The Crack at Ernest, a bar located in the Ouseburn area of the city which is known for its artistic redevelopment as a creative cluster. I was told that my ideas were very unique, and were definitely worth exploring if I knew that it was right, and still to this day I have the confidence in myself and the confidence that I can execute my idea in the best way possible. I then emailed Rebecca, who advised that I get in contact with the person in charge of the magazine side of New Bridge Books, a man named Kuba.

After sending Kuba materials of my magazine that I’d been working on, he advised that we meet to discuss my idea and where he could potentially help. I met with Kuba in March, and at that time I was very busy with uni assignments and things of that nature, so Pala took the back-burner. It was only when I met with Kuba that my creative spark began to flux. Kuba loved my ideas and what Pala stood for. He advised that I create hype for the magazine in some way, which is when he recommended I hold my own art exhibition that highlighted some of the same themes from the magazine, thus creating a direct correlation that would hype up the release of the first issue.

Fast-forward two months later and I’m a part of The Late Shows 2018 at BALTIC 39. The Late Shows is the most popular art event in the entire North East, showcasing various artist’s work across multiple venues, across multiple nights. Kuba took a chance with me, something he never really had to do considering I was someone with a lot of ideas and snippets of work, but also someone who only really understood this world from the outside looking in.

The event went as great as I had anticipated. The magazine is a travel one, so it only felt right that we filled the entire space in shrubbery; multiple different shades of green cascading from the ceiling and along the walls. I created a jungle paradise in the middle of Newcastle for all to see. This was a very humbling experience for me, and has only given me a bigger confidence boost with Pala. After sharing just brief examples of my ideas to the hundreds who attended that night, I can’t help but feel a responsibility to myself to create this magazine and to carve out a niche that has so-far gone un-scratched.

The point of these words is to not flex and give myself an ego boost, the point is to show how I got to this point: through taking the time outside of lectures to explore avenues that help me and my future prospects. I would advise anyone who has a creative idea to fully capitalise on the contacts/knowledge of those around you as you never know where it might lead you. I felt inspired from a lecture and then pursued more information and look where it led me. What will you do if the window of opportunity presents itself?

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