Making new studio spaces for a city of creatives
Hannah Watkinson is just weeks away from finishing her Master’s of Fine Arts at UC, but she found time to chat about creating new exhibition spaces in Ōtautahi for talented young artists like herself and completing her first book of photography. She will share her experiences with young people interested in Fine Arts this Wednesday at 5.30pm.
Hannah Watkinson is an artist and gallery manager, soon-to-be graduate and passionate supporter of emerging creative talent.
I actually went to Ilam SoFA to study painting originally, but I fell in love with photography and was encouraged by some of the incredible artists that UC have as lecturers. Tim J Veling in particular blew me away with the photographic work he does and I was really inspired to continue down that path! While I’d still consider myself a bit of a creative dreamer, the logic and science behind photography, the practical elements, really appealed to me. I learned that there is so much more to it than pretty pictures, and that informs a lot of my projects which always seem to be long term ones.
You had the idea to start a gallery space and support arrived in the form of the Innovators Start Up programme at UC, which gave you the confidence and contacts to establish In Situ Photo Project next to Scorpio Books. Was it a steep learning curve?
Absolutely a steep learning curve. I feel like you need an element of naivety to do a lot of things, and I often say that if I knew then what I know now, I never would have started! Highlights were showing the work of some incredibly talented people, and giving them that validation that they were doing important work, putting it out into the world and having others reinforce them. Giving people a platform, particularly those working on complex social issues, is so important and rewarding. The challenges are always going to be around funding and support. I had so, so much help from a wide range of people, but for any artist-run space to survive beyond the 2-year expected lifespan, things in the art world in general need to change!
Next came The Welder Collective? Did your previous experience at In Situ open the door to this opportunity?