Circuit Internship: #2

Wysing & Kettle’s Yard offer a paid internship to young people involved in the Circuit Cambridge programme. The role is open to members of the Circuit group and to participants in our youth sector partnership projects. Here, Imogen Phillips, our second Circuit intern, shares her thoughts on working with us:

Being the Circuit intern has been such a fantastic opportunity to find out more about young people’s work in galleries. So often, this requires an unpaid internship, so this position is an invaluable way of building experience. Just being a member of Circuit was a real help in this, but the internship means I am not just taking part in Circuit, but can understand how it operates too.

Ultimately, I’d love to combine curating with working with young people, and so being able to see an example of this has been brilliant.

I have particularly enjoyed working on our latest project, curating Helen’s bedroom in Kettle’s Yard. The processes of curating are normally a very closed world, so it has been great not only to get hands-on experience, but to do so learning from experts, and using with the works of Gaudier-Brzeska. Being the program assistant has meant that I’ve been part of the planning and evaluation process, which has really helped me understand the broader framework and ways of working in this field, and the different questions at stake. Ultimately, I’d love to combine curating with working with young people, and so being able to see an example of this has been brilliant. Specifically, I’ve been able to negotiate balancing tight gallery deadlines with giving the group the freedom and time to make the decisions themselves.

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Imogen welcoming artists Auto Italia at a Gatherings discussion at Wysing.

Another great opportunity has been being part of conferences national meetings, such as the Circuit sharing sessions in Brighton and London, and engage, the international conference for education in the visual arts. This enabled me to locate the challenges Circuit addresses within the wider conversation and context of engaging young people with the arts, which has fuelled my excitement for this work.

On our zine project, I the was the main coordinator, bringing together the group’s ideas and research, and making sure that it came together both as a concept and practically. At this stage, our group varied in confidence levels, so the trickiest part of this was ensuring everyone’s voice was heard, whilst still keeping the project moving. This taught me a lot about collaborative decision-making, both in facilitating group dynamics and in managing project time-lines. I’ve learnt that it is important to have tighter deadlines, as more time doesn’t necessarily mean that more people will contribute or feel part of it.

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Imogen facilitating a planning session at Kettle’s Yard for the Orbit zine project.

The most challenging aspect of the programme for me has been juggling the continuous, short-term admin tasks with planning ahead, marketing, documenting and evaluating. The limits of what you can achieve in a two day week means that I’ve had to be tactical in prioritising, and this is teaching me to discern between what is urgent and what is important, and to keep working at a fast pace even when things feel less pressing. Balancing tasks well is still a work in progress, but it has been great to have the support of other colleagues to help me on this.

The limits of what you can achieve in a two day week means that I’ve had to be tactical in prioritising, and this is teaching me to discern between what is urgent and what is important, and to keep working at a fast pace even when things feel less pressing.

I was expecting that it might be trickier to negotiate being a member of the group and working for them – but in fact it has felt very natural, which is testament to the extent to which the peer-led setup keeps leading and being a member together.

Imogen cooking at a Circuit social at Wysing.

Imogen cooking at a Circuit social at Wysing.

I’ve loved being part of the staff team, getting insight into all the other parts of Circuit which not everyone in the group gets to see – such as the partnerships. Being able to plan and lead a workshop for GAPS, one of these partnerships, was a great chance to learn from other Circuit staff about what is helpful in planning and leading an activity for that context – considering concentration span, interest and engagement, and how it sits in relation to the rest of their day. Equally, working with the core group is a real privilege – I really enjoy the mix of planning and then enabling them to make their ideas happen, and the challenge of facilitating a discussion which involves all members of the group. It’s also useful to be part of the Circuit evaluation processes, to see the framework for a national project on this scale and ambition. I’m so grateful to be working with Circuit, and for all that this has allowed me to do and learn.

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