Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
I am Victoria King MA FRSA, a Fine Artist, Academic, and Arts Consultant, and I have worked within the creative cultural sector for decades. I now devote the majority of my time to researching the methods and techniques of Renaissance Master artists, coupled with my practice as a Fine Artist.
What does your job involve? Give us the typical outline of a day?
My daily activities vary dramatically, but involve research, visiting galleries or talks, and spending as much time as possible on my painting practice. I am also a Trustee of a local arts educational charity Bedford House, and Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars where I sit on the Education Committee. I am currently planning exhibitions of my work at the Untitled Artists' Fair and Burgh House Hampstead.
What’s great about your job?
The best aspect of my life is the variety of things I currently engage with, together with the different people I meet and the interesting things I am still learning about.
What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?
The most irritating things are when resources are affected, if there are IT or communication problems, or any financial restrictions which impinge progress.
What are the highlights of your career to date?
I have so many to choose from! Some highlights include:
working with dance philanthropist Robin Howard CBE establishing the first National Choreographic Training Course
Working on projects with Anthony Van Laast and Leonie Urdang
assisting Mark Featherston-Witty RNOM OBE 1st BRIT Academy of Performing Arts Croydon.
As Studios Manager for SPACE Studios I managed 14 studio complexes, and established two new studio complexes alongside the first Studio Awards profiled at Business Design Centre. Concurrently I organised art exhibitions profiled in the first Hackney Arts Festival in 1994. Later, at the Arts Development Office LB Barking & Dagenham with Roger Luxton OBE, I supported the A13 Artscape Public Art Project involving different artists and projects, and worked on the 'Access to the Arts' consultancy report, which was used to inform the Borough Cultural Strategy; and I helped establish The Malthouse cultural hub.
I additionally worked with Dr. Godfrey Brandt as the Programme Director for Birkbeck University for over 17 years. I was also a university lecturer, and in my role as the Advisor and Director of Placements I helped establish the second Arts Policy and Management programme within the UK, specifically for people who were working. An integral aspect of this involved brokering student placements with prestigious artists, organisations, agencies and embassies both in the UK and internationally, thereby profiling Birkbeck as a key learning centre for the creative cultural sector.
You’ve had an extensive career juggling academia, fine art and consultancy. Before we get into the specifics, how did you stay organised?
By prioritising tasks, allocating sufficient time and resources to complete these, all within realistic timescales. Also important, think about what collaborations or any help you may need from others.
Your career in academia saw you working as a lecturer, mentor and placements director. Could you tell us more about that?
I worked at Birkbeck, UCL, and also four other universities, where I was involved in on-going research/updating information, preparing course outlines, planning and delivery in an interesting way. Apart from formal lectures, I would engage students with role play and small group project development. As Director of Placements, I brokered placements across the sector; Arts Council England, NESTA, ABSA, GLA, The Mayor's Office City Hall,TATE, National Portrait Gallery, Photographers Gallery, Audiences London etc.. Consequently I have been able to help many young people further their understanding and future career opportunities within the creative cultural sector.
During your time as placements director, you saw incredible success in securing students high-profile placements. Can you give us an insight into how you did it?
The main aim is to identify and satisfy the different agendas of all parties involved. The need to understand the specific interests, abilities and skills of each individual student, and place these against the needs of the organisation offering the placement opportunity.
What can a young person do to be more appealing to potential employers?
If you identify a lack of specific skills or knowledge, then be prepared to train to acquire these, or research yourself for the knowledge you’re lacking. Be very realistic, and also flexible.
Although you’ve now left academia, you still work as a fine artist. Can you tell us about your work?
Since 2011 on leaving Birkbeck, I have specifically researched the methods and techniques of Renaissance artists, as I find these particularly sympathetic to my individual practice. These layering, slow processes are incorporated into my paintings, taking into account composition and colour harmonies towards the final vision. I regularly exhibit and complete commissions, together with on-going research into the influence of Renaissance methods on the emergence of The British School of Art.
And are there any transferable skills that help with your practice?
Prior experience has helped with the planning, fund-raising, marketing/publicity and exhibition curation. Also focus, and my interpersonal and research skills, are all very useful.
You’re also a member of the Royal Society of Arts. Can you tell us about the organisation and why you joined?
The RSA was established in 1754 by William Shipley, who operated one of the very first Drawing Schools in London. The RSA also covers manufacturing and other related commercial activities. It holds a global membership of 30,000, with talks and opportunities to network with others interested in the arts.
Have you also worked outside the creative cultural sector?
No – I do seem to have spent my whole life working within the arts, creative cultural sector.
Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?
The main issue has been maintaining projects which are all at different points of development, and the fact that the majority of arts funding has a limited timespan.
Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what?
The greatest difference is the increased emphasis on financial targets, with the need for artistic activity to fully justify its relevance and value in terms of tangible outputs. Professor John Pick at City University once said it should be 'money for values', not otherwise. Also the lack of adequate studio provision for artists in London is a major issue, destroying so much creative practice.
You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?
Be confident and clear about your individual abilities, everyone holds unique qualities, and be prepared to accept criticism – it’s often given to help you.
Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of work?
You will need to hold a genuine passion for working in the creative cultural sector, as there is usually no great fortune to be made.