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The Perks & Quirks of Gallery Life...

Ever wondered what it was like to work here at The Craft Centre and Design Gallery Leeds? Our newest member of the team Lucie (our fab gallery supervisor) gives you a little insight in today's blog.

"Having been brought up in Yorkshire and recently completed an MA programme in Leeds, I was already aware of the fantastic variety of talent showcased at the Craft Centre and Design Gallery. It was not until I accepted a job here earlier this year, however, that I realised just how much hard work goes in to making the gallery what it is today. Pursuing a career in the arts can be challenging to say the least, the competition is strong, and job opportunities or funding for the arts far and few between.

I was therefore delighted to join the ranks that make up a small team of six Yorkshire-woman who share a passion for contemporary craft and design, and in the region that I’m proud to call home. On the surface it may look like working in a gallery is a relaxing combination of contemplation and display; whilst we certainly focus on curation and cooking up inspiring displays the reality of the job is far more physically and mentally demanding! Where larger institutions tend to be split into several departments, our (mainly part-time) team of six covers everything from marketing, curation, research, analysis, DIY, admin, collections management, exhibition set-up, stock management, security, customer service, customer enquiries & bespoke orders….the list goes on!

Whilst the range of work can be demanding, it also means that it’s far more rewarding than previous jobs I’ve undertaken in the museums/gallery sector. As a small-scale team of staff we are allowed a level of creative control and responsibility which I have never come across before in the sector. Our Artistic Director Hayley allows staff members to follow their own passions and personal strengths which makes for an overall more productive and inspired team who can learn from one another’s specific expertise. It also makes for a democratic and all-hands-on-deck environment, my favourite aspect of which is in planning and setting up new exhibitions; everyone has a say and everyone pitches in.

The thing that has struck me the most since working here is the time that’s taken to ensure that fair representation is given to all makers we work with. Whether this is via social media, press & marketing, refreshing displays or keeping in touch with makers to let them know how their work is being received by our visitors - great care is taken to ensure each person we work with is given the same level of support. This side of the job has been lovely as it means developing relationships with makers, which in turn helps us to better understand their work and creative processes.

The gallery also has charitable status which means it has educational objectives to fulfil – educating the public of all ages about different techniques and skills of contemporary and traditional craft. We also strive to support as many local Yorkshire makes as possible (at the last count we have over 50!) as well as a combination of new emerging talent and established well respected names in the world of craft. The Gallery also has to run as a business in order to keep itself afloat so that the public can continue to experience the best of contemporary British craft for years to come. Working to ensure these different objectives are working in harmony with one another can be quite a balancing act which I wasn’t necessarily aware of before seeing all of the behind the scenes work at the Gallery.

There’s never a dull moment at the Craft Centre and Design Gallery, we are constantly refreshing the space, displaying at least a couple of new collections each month meaning there is always something new for our regular visitors to experience, it keeps life interesting (and sometimes expensive!) for the staff too as we’re all united by a genuine enthusiasm for the work we’re showcasing. It is this that makes a unique visitor experience for a growing audience of those wishing to learn more about the skill, talent and originality behind contemporary craft."

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