We know the path to success doesn’t always go smoothly, so we asked our lecturers about the ups and downs on their path to the University of Brighton. Today it’s Eliza who teaches art history, and whose love for the subject stemmed from an interest in literature and poetry.
Hi Eliza. Tell us, what were you like at school? Were you a diligent pupil?
“I was diligent…to an extent…! Typically, I tended to dread assignments in subject areas I didn’t feel particularly drawn to, but I was very keen on literature and poetry, so I was inspired to excel in these areas and genuinely enjoyed engaging with the texts I was studying.”
Why did you decide to go to university?
“I wanted to learn more about the subjects I found interesting! Poetry was what led me to consider studying art history as I had developed a fascination with the relationship between image and word, as well as with the ideas of the early modern avant-garde. Having an opportunity to spend three years just exploring this history and world of ideas was very appealing!”
“Having an opportunity to spend three years just exploring this history and world of ideas was very appealing!”
How did you decide which subject to study?
“Aside for the reasons mentioned above, I chose art history also because this was not a course offered by any university in Singapore (where I grew up).”
What did you do after graduation and why did you choose that path?
“After completing my BA, I had to return to work in Singapore for several years to fulfil my scholarship bond. My very first entry-level job stint was with the Singapore Art Museum, coordinating public programmes.
“Eventually, I found myself working for the National Arts Council, which was eye-opening as I got to experience being part of a team that worked on projects that were international in scope, such as the Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. These were paths that corresponded with my interests and training.”
At what point did you decide that you wanted to teach others?
“After completing my PhD, I was given the opportunity to supervise Third Year students working on their dissertations, as well as to teach on various courses. My parents were both teachers, so naturally, I swore I would never be one, yet this experience actually proved to be so fulfilling I realised it was probably a calling I had been denying all this time!”
“My parents were both teachers, so naturally, I swore I would never be one, yet the experience proved so fulfilling I realised it was probably a calling I had been denying all this time!”
Was there ever a point where you doubted yourself – where you felt that you weren’t going to achieve your goals?
“Early in my career it was difficult finding work that immediately corresponded to my training and experience level. For a while, I even worked in an art logistics company coordinating exhibition shipments, when what I really would have preferred doing was to curate the show! It was pretty existential.
“I wondered what I was doing in a warehouse by the port – poring over airway bills, calculating volumetric weight and creating sales quotes, but I got around to curating eventually, and some of the skills I acquired in art freight actually did come in handy.
“Looking back on this experience, I also appreciate the fact that the role had also given me access to places like museum conservation and storage facilities, the homes of artists and private collectors, where I had many opportunities to glimpse artworks that were hidden away from view!”