L O U I S E C A R R E C K C O M M U T I N G I N T E R V I E W
S: Could you say who are you and that?
L: And that? My name is Louise Carreck and I am your friend from the Barbican
S: What’s your job title at the Barbican?
L: My full job title is Front of House Gallery Coordinator. I just say Gallery Coordinator because I don’t like the Front of House bit.
S: How long have you worked at The Barbican?
L: I’ve had this job for two and a half years now, but before that I was there for a year doing the same job as you – invigilating.
S: Had you worked in arts infrastructure before working at The Barbican?
L: No, I had not.
S: How come?
L: I dunno, I just never thought of being an invigilator. But when I started working at the Barbican I did think ‘why have I never done this before?’
S: So what did you do before?
L: I worked in retail type jobs, working behind a till.
S: Do you have a formal arts education?
L: Yes. I did a BA in Photography at the Arts Institute in Bournemouth, which I finished in 2008.
S: With a Foundation or not?
L: Oh I did art foundation before, at KIAD, which is Kent Institute of Art and Design.
S: Did you know you wanted to do photography when you went there?
L: No. But I didn’t even really want to do it when I left there.
S: What did you want to do when you left there?
L: I thought I wanted to do graphic design or interior design. Then I had a year out after foundation. And I actually really didn’t want to do photography. I felt a bit anti it. And then in the end I wanted to do photography.
And then I had a few years gap, and then I did a Masters in Photography at Royal College of Art.
S: Do you have an art practice now?
L: Yeah. I work on my own photography projects, I guess that’s my art practice….
S: Do you do other kinds of paid labour except working at The Barbican?
S: At all? None?
S: You never like, someone will pay you £30 to look at an application, or you never get any money from your photography?
L: I’ve started selling cards, and they have a little bit of money. But I wouldn’t really class it as… I guess its a bit of money. I dunno, maybe I wouldn’t call it labour. But it is, but it is really. I think because its a recent thing that they’ve started selling, and its not much money, its not really made a difference financially to my bank balance.
S: If you started making more money from it would you leave your Barbican job?
L: Well, if it made the same amount as I get paid, then yeah (laughs). I doubt that. But you never know.
S: How many hours a week do you typically work at The Barbican?
L: My contract is 35 hours. But I’m there for 40, because my lunch break isn’t included in that time.
S: Do you leave as soon as your shift have finished?
L: Yes. What is quite good about the job, compared to other friends’ creative jobs in London, is that when the shift ends, you just go.
S: Do you worry about the job at home?
L: I think I think about it. Yeah, it does stay in your head. I guess I don’t have that experience of other jobs where you take your work home with you, I’m not taking project work home or anything like that.
S: How many hours a week do you typically spend on your art practice?
L: I don’t know. Hearing that question has made me think it would be quite good if I actually calculated it and kept a log of how many hours I do spend, because I actually don’t know.
S: Approximately? If you weren’t hanging out with me now, would you have done some tonight?
L: No. I tend to do it on my days off. If I’ve got two weekdays off together. And I have got a project I’m working on at the moment, I will do it on those days off.
S: If it was a weekend you wouldn’t?
L: No, because my weekends are rare. So weekends are quite nice to do a social thing. So maybe I would spend 7 hours a day on my day off. I don’t know whether that’s accurate. Sometimes I think, if I worked Monday to Friday would I get much artwork done? Because I would want to be doing weekend things with friends who work Monday to Friday too. So for getting artwork done, getting weekdays off is actually quite good. Swings and roundabouts.
S: Do you ever work on your art practice while on shift at The Barbican?
L: If its quiet I guess I’ll think about it. Otherwise, I don’t think I’ve worked on it while I’m meant to be working, no. But on my lunch break I have. At the moment I’ve got a project that I really want to get finished, so I will work on it in my lunchbreak.
S: Is there any aspect of your job at The Barbican that materially assists your art practice?
L: No (laughs)
S: Okay, fine! Well I guess part of this will be about the pressure not to disclose this stuff as well, so that’s okay. Do you get any support for your art practice from peers/co-workers at The Barbican?
L: Yeah, I think managers, or one of them, likes that you do have an art practice. But whether thats just a personal interest of theirs, rather than thinking about how you actually do it, around the hours your working.
But I think its good being around, you know, people like yourself, and just chatting about ideas and projects. And you know, you might meet a couple of people out of a load of staff who you get one with and its always nice to meet someone that you think who you can chat to about this. People who are both interested in similar ideas, so it gives you a boost to get on with it.
S: Is that different to what you found at retail jobs?
L: Yes, definitely. Everyone at the Barbican is doing something artistic, so whether your chatting about your own project or not, your chatting about something creative. But thats actually not in the office with my immediate colleagues, thats with the invigilators, who are all studying or working on their own projects. In the office there’s just no time, we have so much to get through in the office. And in the office, all of our work is actually quite different, so one person is an actor, one is a potter.
But only recently in the job, as I’ve got to know curators and the exhibition assistants, that I have told them about my work. And then its a slow building conversation about work. So that has been good as well, as support.
S: And does that help the content of your practice, or rather the being professionally successful in your practice?
L: Well one of them did look through a selection of photos and kind of.. hmmm… yeah I don’t think its really helped with the content, but more just feeling supported and if they think its good, then you feel better about it. And just advice as well, you know, their point of view. Because I can chat to lots of photographers about my work, but I don’t really get the opportunity to talk to a curator about my work or an exhibition assistant about my work. So they come at it from quite a different point of view. So that has actually been quite interesting because they see things quite differently to the ways that artists see things.
S: Would that even be worth seeking out from every department? So would it be worth also seeking out a learning officer, because they would also see it differently?
L: Yeah, if that interested you then you could do that. I found it quite interesting because my friends are photographers from RCA so they have a very different view from the curator at the Barbican, who might just say something like ‘do this, this will work’ or whatever. And then you think ‘Oh, I can imagine my friend so-and-so really disagreeing with that point of view’. Just, they look at it differently.
S: Yeah, so maybe even, say we were setting up an art college now, would it be worth each tutor being from a different department from an art gallery
L: Yeah, so you’d learn more.
S: Yeah, thats a good idea. Alright cool, besides more money, what kinds of assistances would help your practice?
S: Which really is the same as money.
L: Is it? Well yeah, I guess so. I mean, at the moment I don’t have enough time, because I work full time, so its limited.
S: If money from your art picked up a bit, would you take a part-time job instead?
L: Yeah definitely. I’ve looked at part-time jobs, but they don’t pay you enough.
S: Is there anything else that could help?
L: I think if you know that people are interested that helps, because it gives you that boost to keep making work. But I guess all artists are different, some artists are adamant that they’re interested in something and they don’t care about anyone else’s opinion and they will just keep making. But I think staying self-motivated can be quite hard when you’re working alone. So I guess as much as people might not actually want to admit it, you do want that recognition or encouragement from other people. It does spur you on to make more work. I guess if it goes too far and you’ve got a gallery breathing down your neck, I’ve seen people that are just churning it out, and they’re not making anything that they actually like. But I think encouragement and people that like what you’re doing is also important.
S: Does that need to be from someone higher up from you in the art hierarchy or can that come from peers, or invigilators?
L: I guess you will take the opinion of someone whose point of view you believe is interesting. And only you know whether you find that person’s point of view or opinion interesting. So that maybe isn’t a clear-cut answer.
S: Do you take the same travel route to The Barbican every time?
L: No. I try not to do the same route, but it depends on what time I start. I get quite bored going the same route.
S: So is it that you always take the same route on the early shift and the same other route on later shifts?
S: Which is quicker?
L: They’re both about the same. But in the morning I can’t do the same route as the late one, because I would be late, because its slower in the morning.
S: So in practice you take the quickest route all the time, but whatever that quickest route is changes?
S: So which is the quickest route in the morning?
L: A 10 minute walk to West Dulwich station. Then the Southeastern train from West Dulwich to Brixton, which is 5 minutes, 2 stops. Then I have to walk round the corner to the tube station in Brixton. Then take the Victoria Line to Stockwell, one stop, and then from Stockwell to Moorgate on the Northern Line. And then I walk from Moorgate to the Barbican Centre. And I have to stand the whole way.
S: And if its later in the day?
L: So I have to get the National Rail app open on my phone, to check this other train is running, because they’re always cancelled or delayed.
S: Ah that’s interesting. So maybe your commute actually starts from when you start checking, because you’re actually doing work?
L: I guess so, yes. So I’ll do West Dulwich to Hearn Hill, which is one stop, on the same Southeastern train that goes to Brixton. Then I take another train from Hearn Hill to Farringdon, which I like because I can look out the window, and I can look at all the houses. I used to then walk from Farringdon to the Barbican, but then I realised that you can just cross over the bridge and get on the tube and its just one stop.
S: What do you do while commuting?
I listen to my iPod.
S: What do you listen to?
L: I listen to music. I mostly put it on suffle, and all my music on there is really old.
S: What genre of music?
L: Everything, I’ve got loads of stuff on there. But its all quite old. Like old as in when I was buying music on iTunes, which was 10 years ago. I mostly listen to this band called Christine and the Queens they’re quite fun. Its a girl singing, with dancers, who are the queens.
S: Can I walk your commuting route with you one time?
L: Sure, it would be way more interesting, and it would go a lot quicker.
S: Okay, I’ll do it on a later one.
L: Way in, but on the nice overground train?
S: For the early one I’d have to leave very early.