As an Industry Placement Bursary recipient working at UQ Art Museum, Sarah Bradley helped formulate a critical element of ephemeral traces: Brisbane’s artist-run scene in the 1980s – the timeline. As she edges closer to graduation in June 2016, we asked the Bachelor of Commerce and Arts student, who’s majoring in Accounting and Extended Art History, about the importance of interning and her plans to bring together two diverse but interesting disciplines in the workforce.
Q: How did the work you did as an intern and bursary recipient contribute to the ephemeral traces exhibition and how did you find this experience?
A: My project was to undertake research into the period 1975 – 1995, with a specific focus on Brisbane’s artist-run scene in the 1980s. Under the guidance of exhibition curator Peter Anderson and UQ Art Museum curatorial staff, I sourced a variety of research materials, including pieces of exhibition ephemera, newspaper clippings, journal articles, books on local culture and history, exhibition catalogues, artists’ CVs, web resources and the Facebook group ‘Qld ARI Heritage 1980-2000’. I collected information on artist-run spaces, art institutions, state and federal politics, music and radio, social issues and pop culture. Peter was interested in hearing about events associated with the 1980s that would act as points of reference for people unfamiliar with Brisbane’s artist-run scene.
The result of my research was a 50-page document, jam-packed with local, national and international history. I edited this down into a more concise comparative timeline, which could be used to identify contextual links and any gaps in the research. I appreciated the final edits made by Peter and his arrangement of the timeline in the UQ Art Museum space. Overall, I found the project to be a highly rewarding experience. I improved my research skills and formed a deeper understanding of Brisbane’s recent history. My studies at university have predominantly centred around creative endeavours on distant shores. I valued my experience with ephemeral traces, because it gave me an opportunity to better acquaint myself with the vibrant art scene residing in our own backyard.
Q: Did the opportunity to work in a professional museum space impact your thinking about your future career and if so how?
A: In the past, studying two relatively dissimilar degrees has planted seeds of confusion around the direction of my future career. However, working at the UQ Art Museum introduced me to the diversity of expertise in a professional museum environment. This variety only continues to grow in our ever-changing society. Even if we look back over the last decade, we can see how developments in social media and apps have changed the professional landscapes of our organisations. The dynamic environment of the arts industry presents exciting opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration and innovation. My objective is to work in a role that combines the knowledge and experience I have acquired, and will acquire, in both arts and commerce.
Q: You had the opportunity to meet with the couple who funded your Industry Placement Bursary. How did you feel about meeting with them and can you describe what this opportunity meant to you?
A: I’m very grateful for the generosity of the donors. The Industry Placement Bursary has made a world of difference to my practical education and career development. I was excited to meet and thank them for their contribution and to relay how inspiring the experience had been. We had a nice talk about my project for ephemeral traces and their own enthusiasm for art.
Q: What advice would you give other Art History or Museum Studies students who might be considering volunteering, interning or applying for scholarships and bursaries?
A: Actively seeking practical opportunities goes hand in hand with studying an Art History or Museum Studies degree. Volunteering, interning and bursary programs can help students to connect with industry professionals, develop knowledge, identify areas of interest, and gain practical experience. Contrary to popular belief, I believe there’s an abundance of career opportunities in the Arts. I remember sitting in a ‘Welcome to the Arts’ lecture on my first day at UQ. The lecturer made an effort to recast the breadth of an Arts degree in a positive light by associating it with the vast potential for opportunity in the degree. Each student can carve out a career path that excites, inspires and motivates them. Interning at the UQ Art Museum has been a valuable way for me to determine where my path might go. I strongly encourage my peers to get involved and apply.
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