Ep.52: Rosalind Davis on being an artist, curator and catalyst

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Nov 15, 2017 •  Interviews

Rosalind Davis is an artist-curator and a graduate of The Royal College of Art (2005) and Chelsea College of Art (2003).
As an artist, Rosalind works has exhibited nationally and internationally in a wide range of galleries and has had a number of solo shows in London: the Bruce Castle Museum (2013); John Jones Project Space; Julian Hartnoll Gallery (2009); The Residence Gallery (2007) and The Stephen Lawrence Centre.

‘Davis’ paintings cite and improvise on a high modern repertoire of architectural and design forms, adding stitched geometries and broad washes of translucent pigment to conjure a set of complex interior spaces…Entry Point, a steel and thread sculpture suspended in the stairwell, effortlessly achieves a harmony of materials, form and space that evokes approval of the modernist integration of art and life.’ David Gledhill, a-n reviews

Rosalind is the permanent Curator at Collyer Bristow Gallery and has an expertise in the arts and creative sector. Her first exhibition at Collyer Bristow Gallery was Complicity which was reviewed by Art Top 10; ‘Cracking Show. Superb Artists. Brilliantly curated.’

Rosalind lectures for universities, galleries, and organizations across the country including the Royal College of Art, the ICA, Camden Arts Centre. The University of the Arts and ArtQuest and teaches specialist courses in social media marketing and arts management at UAL. Rosalind has also led art tours for the ICA (London and Boston), South London Art Map and the Whitechapel Gallery and contributed to BBC4’s Film ‘Tales of Winter. The Art of Snow and Ice.’ As a creative consultant she has worked for arts organizations, charities and independents as well as corporations such as BBC4 and E4 and is privileged to be selected to be an Ambassador and curatorial mentor for UK Young Artists.

Get in touch with Rosalind

Key Takeaways

“Be the change you want to see in the world. Make space that is nurturing, curious and exciting … and be kind to each other”

Resources mentioned

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Special thanks to Rosalind for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Rosalind Davis, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer  

Creative, artistic, happy! That’s you. There are endless possibilities for living a creative life. So let’s inspire each other. Art Side of Life interviews with Iva.

Iva Mikles  

Hello everyone and welcome to the next episode of Art Side of Life, where it’s all about how you can turn your creative passion into a profession. My name is Iva, and my guest today is highly accomplished artists, curator and catalyst from London, England. She is the gradient of Royal College of Art in London and permanent curator at Collyer, Bristow gallery, bespoke gallery space with a dynamic Exhibition Program. She lectures for universities, galleries and organizations across the country, including Royal College of Art ICA, Camden Art Center, University of Arts, and ArtQuest. As a creative consultant. She has worked for arts organizations, charities, independence, as well as corporations such as BBC Four E for and it’s privileged to be selected an ambassador and curatorial mentor for UK young artists. So please welcome Rosalind Davis. And let’s get the interview. But happy to have you here and welcome everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. I’m super excited to have my guest here today. So please welcome rustling Hi, I would like to hear when did you first realize you want to work with art?

Rosalind Davis  

And well, I decided I wanted to be an artist. In a kind of roundabout waves something actually I tried not to be or I didn’t have an ambition to be because my father was an artist. So I kind of seen how difficult it was. And like precarious it was financially. And I thought, well, I want a more stable life. And then I was going to get the English and Drama at University of East Anglia when I was 19. And I decided to do a foundation course just a one year course at art school, to just sort of see and to give myself because I always loved doing the art. But I just thought, I’ll be creative in a different way. And yeah, and I did a foundation and then I just decided that I would go into like textiles. So I studied textiles, and then Chelsea and then I went to the Royal College of Art straight after that. And sort of partway through my first year at Royal College of Art, I decided I didn’t want to go into textiles. And I Susi heads. And I think it’s kind of useful to say, but it was kind of like break down slash breakthrough in the sense of coming to realization that I wanted to follow fine art and I wanted to work more conceptually. Rather than kind of commercially or for like, a fashion house. So it’ll be aesthetic wasn’t enough in that regard. So that was interesting and really difficult. But I guess kind of character building, in a way because it made me really I guess, because I had to defend my choices and justify them in a different way. And because I was in a fashion and textiles environment. And I also kind of didn’t have peers and things like you know, the peers I had with fashion and textile. So there wasn’t the easiest to kind of with the with the work side of things. So the my tutors who were fantastic. And Freddy Robbins is one that has been my mentor ever since. But the professor of painting Graham Crowley, he came to teach me he really generously gave some time and he helped me progress my painting and, you know, looking at artists and contemporary spaces, and that was amazing. And so when I left I was a painter and decided to pursue that and yeah, and have and since then I’ve had an over 100 exhibitions and sold work and worked internationally. Yeah, so worked out a bit. Yeah, sir. is quite long. But yeah, it’s sort of that’s that was kind of a big sort of challenge, I suppose. I mean, there’s been lots more really since that point, but that’s in a nutshell, I suppose.

Iva Mikles  

going big maybe when you mentioned your father was he Yeah, fine artists.

Rosalind Davis  

Yeah, he was a sculptor. And he, he’d been pretty successful in South Africa, where he lived for a time. And then he moved back to the UK. And it was the case of really having to start all over again. And it was very challenging. And he then had a family and he just, you know, gave it up for a while. So, you know, that that was why, but so we were surrounded by art. And he took us to see exhibitions and things like that. So it was the

Iva Mikles  

inspiration.

Rosalind Davis  

Yeah, well, you know, I think it’s, it’s interesting, in terms of the work he makes, it’s much more about, well, we both make work about form, but in very, very different ways is much more about the physical form. Whereas my work is much more about architectural form.

Iva Mikles  

Do you remember? Or do you remember now the conversation with you had like the, when you first decided you want to go for art career with your parents?

Rosalind Davis  

Um, I didn’t really discuss it with them. They kind of pretty liberal, they were just, you know, they didn’t have any, there was no pressure expectation, meaning, I’d always been really like a good student and worked really hard. And they were just, you know, sort of happy to see me go where I wanted to go. And you know, they’re really proud of me, you know, so that’s nice. Through Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And yeah. And you mentioned the mentors with the head in the school was, was this part of the program? Or did you find them somehow, like, out of the school or how that happened.

Rosalind Davis  

Um, I’ve had several mentors, really, I mean, people, by the, which, I mean, it’s somebody that has been with me for a while and advising me, so they weren’t my tutors at the time. Freddie Robins and Graham Crowley, and so they’ve, I’ve maintained relationships with them, I’ve exhibited their work. Now as my job as curator. I’ve shown them in a few different exhibitions, which is fantastic working with them. And they still just do things like Graham Graham will, I’ll send him a picture of something I’ve done and, or he will come to visit the studio. And he’ll just feedback and it won’t be like a long thing. But is this really great. And then, when I left college, sort of that whole thing of not being in fine art, I really sought out networks, really, and mentors. And one of those was somebody. He’s a very good friend, but George bolster, I met him at work. He lives in America. Now he’s an artist, but he was really good at. He was like my mentor for understanding the contemporary art world. So we’d go to private views and openings and things like that, and kind of gave me that suit of education. About obviously, his work and my work. So he had feedback about that. And then I had another friend called Paul Benjamins. And he was just, he was an artist, I worked for his wife, as a textile designer for a time, Jackie Lewis, and he would just again, look at my work, you know, and that’s the thing you sort of need after you leave school with somebody to look at it and talk about it and discuss it with you and sort of point out where you could improve it. And so he was another one. But he also did the kind of introducing me to people. He was a more, you know, he was an older artist, and he had networks, and he would sort of take me along, and he was a great rock and terror and a wonderful man and artist. And yeah, he would help that way, you know, in lots of different ways. And it helps me kind of understand a little bit more about the art world, I suppose.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, for sure. Because then, so maybe also one of the really big advantages to go to, like renowned school or one of the big schools is to get contacts and networking, and they can introduce you to the outside world. Because yeah, like first steps when you go out of the college. What did you do? as well? Like?

Rosalind Davis  

Yeah, well, that was the thing is that I came very quickly to the realization that I needed to take control of my own career, and that when I graduated, I didn’t I wanted to have things in place. And so I did a lot of research of appropriate kind of curators and galleries that would be interested in my kind of work. I did my own postcard and my invitation to send out to them with a note with a letter, handwritten letter. And my fellow colleagues weren’t really doing that. They were sort of like, under the notion particularly because like, oh, it’s RCA, that somebody’s gonna scoop you up or such is gonna blow your work. And I was just like, okay, that’s really unrealistic. So I just kind of decided to do that. And it, you know, paid off because I had a solo show, you know, about a year later at the residence gallery in East London and a two person show in East London as well. And yeah, so I think that’s always been my way of like being proactive about my career. There’s also a huge element of marketing and promoting my career without being too self promotion, and in our horrible way, but in a sense of getting out there and making networks and things like that. And I started to kind of build an art world and sort of five years after I left art school, I joined a studio and kind of ran an artist led space. And that was cool gallery in Deptford. And then it evolved into being, like, I start to project so I set up arts organizations as well. And that’s, that was fantastic, because it meant working with loads of artists that working with other curators, developing communities and networks, like, you know, I sort of have all those wonderful people around me and I, it’s very much about the philosophy of building your own art world is a big kind of philosophy of mine of like, the people you want to be around and, you know, having a great experience and giving a great experience to artists, you know, through exhibitions or through teaching. So I kind of have yet worked very hard at creating those networks. Really. Yeah. So how

Iva Mikles  

are you networking most of the time is it like in person, or online, or emails and these kinds of things.

Rosalind Davis  

And it’s both in person and online. I do use social media, in terms of my work. And in terms of my work as a curator, and teacher. So I know, it’s just a really fantastic way to keep in touch with artists I’ve worked with, and then I can, you know, promote what they’re doing and just by retweeting something, or something like that. So, a kind of, it’s just sort of good to think, oh, how so and so and you just can have a look at their timeline and, and see what they’re up to their Instagram and know a bit about what they’re doing and the work they’re doing. So I kind of touched those bases more, I mean, Email. Email is like the pain of my life. So it’s purely admin, it’s never really social, you know? Like, I mean, you know, it’s, it’s things you have to do, but I prefer to kind of touch in very quickly with people, and it kind of helps a lot. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Do you separate some of your businesses kind of when you are thinking about your branding, or how you position yourself on the market? Because when you create art, you’re teaching and different things? How would you describe your vision in your work?

Rosalind Davis  

With me, as a professional arts person, I have one word, which is catalyst. And that’s kind of covers all the bases, of being an artist, being a curator, being a teacher. So yeah, artists, Curator catalyst is kind of how you will find my profiles on social media, for example. And that kind of says a lot about the values I have, I think, and what I feel I can do. I mean, if you’re talking about my artwork, then my, my work is very much informed by architecture and how we perceive space and how we use space. And so I they’re very, there’s a lot of form and structure, and there’s a lot of materiality in the work. It’s also evolved into being sculptures and installations. Those steel, quite hard edge materials, but I also use threads a lot in my work. And that’s used more so now as symbolic aspects, but also the kind of, of my heritage from textiles of women’s location in fine art and architecture often being underrepresented in what in what they’ve done. And it’s kind of a, an intervention of those things. So it has a very symbolic, as well as, you know, an element of obviously, its materiality, but it’s also it’s kind of generally there in the work and it might look like there isn’t, but there’ll be like a tiny lines. Somewhere that saying, I’m still here. Yeah. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

I mean, that’s really cool. I really liked the connection with the textile world you were part of, and now you put it in the fine art. I think it’s amazing. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And when you think about the inspirations and how you create your artworks, is there something which is kind of strange or other people think it’s weird when you’re inspired by it? Or how do you go out and kind of call like the difference is inspiration. How is that process looking?

Rosalind Davis  

With my paintings, I take loads and loads of photos of buildings, different kinds of buildings. So I’ve been working on a series that is a building in Paris called Keisha is the bottom of the building. That’s where my color comes from. And then another building in Madrid, which is sorry, Madrid, ones, Keisha, and the other one is a foundation. And once a very still, and it’s by Hertz up to mirror. And so that’s kind of their overlaid and flipped and turned. So I take photos, and then I use Photoshop, to collage and overlay until I find the right kind of dynamic, where it feels like things are shifting. And so yeah, the current layer two different spaces collage. So I take loads of pictures of buildings, but I mean, but you know, the other things are like, there’ll be obscure as well. So I was taking photos of the back of a university, just the kind of grids and the lines is as kind of something that inspires me. Nope, particularly, I’m just very, very focused on kind of architecture, really. And that’s the thing that always grabs me. And it’s what I want to work with. But I don’t just have to purely be it’s not representational, in a way, but you’ll see in the work, there’s portals and there’s doors, and there’s windows, and there’s ways in and there’s ways out, and sometimes there’s no way out. So, yeah, so there’s there’s a series called exit strategy. Which is, yeah. So the titles of the work are kind of an indication of a more psychological space that you might be inhabiting.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. And because now, you’re also mentioned that you go like, Oh, then you will take a lot of pictures. How do you design your your week or day? And how do you plan all your activities? Because you have so many?

Rosalind Davis  

Yeah, yeah. Well, I think that’s really important. Point is that I’m not in the studio every day. My practice is about not just purely sitting in isolation, it’s conversations with other artists, it’s going to see art, it’s reading about art. My, you know, my week’s ever changing, you know, and so there isn’t such a thing, as I’m sure, you know, any of your guests will probably say is, there’s never one week the same as the next, which is, you know, what other people think is amazing. So, you know, and so one week, I won’t be in the studio, and I think my work has changed a lot. And I’ve changed a lot. And I think a lot of artists that I kind of teach or talk to, you know, there’s always this thing about they want more time in the studio, which I do, I agree, I’m one of those people. But I’ve also decided, you know, not to stress about it. Like, it’s I’m not going to stop being artists, if I haven’t been in the studio for two weeks, or whatever it is. Because I’m working on other projects. And the other projects I do, like being a curator really fuel me, I find it really exciting. And I really love that work. And I’m, you know, luckily in a position where I am doing mostly the work I love. And because I, you know, again, it’s important to say that I spent 10 years working part time in health regulator, okay, throughout my BA throughout my MA, and since and everyone’s a part time artist. So you know, and I finally got to leave the last year when I became permanent curator at Kali Bristow gallery. And that freed me. It was amazing. It was really liberating, of course, and but yeah, it just takes a long, it takes a long time to get to that position. I mean, I’ve been, you know, throughout that time, I wasn’t just doing that job in my painting work. I was also curating projects, I was also teaching, I was running an arts organization. I mean, I was spinning so many plates, and I just just gets put one plate down at the moment, you know, which is a very big play that I got to fit down. But, you know, it does take time. And I think I just I’m connected with the arts every day anyway, it’s sort of whether that’s me looking at someone’s work on Instagram or whatever it may be. It’s not kind of a conventional thing. And in terms of the work I do with it installation work, I work with these very large steel structures. So I need a large space which I don’t have. So it’s very project based, which kind of really works to me because then I can have a very solid you know, week where I am just I’ve got a space I’m playing with the work and I’m working very quickly as well. And my other painting work is very slow, because it’s built up of a lot of layers of glazes and I like to look at it and think about it a lot. So I don’t need To be like endlessly producing like, I’m, if I do one paint one great painting a year, that’s fine. You know, I might do more. I’m sure I usually do more. But, you know, I think it’s sort of, I’m not going to berate myself for not making more work, because actually, I’d rather it quality rather than quantity anyway, I mean, you know, yeah, as I say, it’s great to have more time to get have enough space in your head for ideas. But yeah, it’s kind of a balance that I’m trying to achieve football the kind of

Iva Mikles  

like a deep level goals. So you don’t push yourself too much like, Okay, I want to create 30 artworks, and then you will be disappointed if you don’t do it.

Rosalind Davis  

Yeah, it means I mean, to be honest, you have to sometimes make 30 artworks to make one good artwork, which is also true. But you know, it’s, it’s an, it’s a kind of intriguing kind of thing. I mean, there’s an artist, I know, Marian, Michelle, and she made foundling, she has them, me. And so she’s very limited in the artwork she can make. And she always inspires me, because she’s got so many challenges in terms of her health, but she’s still connect, she was still connecting with her work every day. And she would be moving objects, like almost curating a little picture. And I was like, Well, you know, should that’s as much time, you know, I was like, I can’t complain, I’m not having the same time when somebody that has those challenges is making artwork as best they can in the small amount of time that they have. So I kind of think it’s got to be a bit like a bit more measured, I suppose. And how I tricked myself. And

Iva Mikles  

so do you have something which kind of simplifies your life to maybe plan the project? Something maybe you bought? Or how do you plan everything?

Rosalind Davis  

Well, my iPhone is my saving grace, to do lists and calendars and stuff like that. So that’s the thing, and just being able to use travel time, because I travel usually quite a lot for shows or for teaching or, you know, to the gallery and stuff. So I kind of like to use that time, just to answer and quick emails and stuff. You know, I have a little look at social media post a couple of things or whatever it may be. So that really helps. And I have a I have a constantly evolving to do list. Yes, we all do. On my computer. Yeah. And so I kind of have a list of dates in there as well. So I can just have an overview. And I have, you know, of course, the most urgent things at the top, and then I have got three pages, but I kind of come to the realization of page two. If it’s on page two, then it’s probably not as important. At some point, I will get around to doing that. But yeah,

Iva Mikles  

in, for example, about the studio, what you mentioned that you work there, maybe with a large scale project, how do you find these places? Or do you rent them out? Or going with a friend? Or how does it work?

Rosalind Davis  

Um, well, I have exhibitions where, where I will propose that, that I’m going to curate a show. So we did show a place in London called Art House One last year. And I was asked if I would curate a sport and I curate shows I’m in and I curate shows I’m not in. And so I was part of that. So I had an idea that I would take the installations there. And I would we would work there as a residency for a couple of weeks beforehand. So. So that’s kind of there’s things like that, that kind of word of mouth, I suppose. And then I get asked to be part of exhibitions. So I’m doing a project in East London later this year. And that’s an interesting, quite large space. So I’ll do something with my installations there. And that came out of somebody writes my book, what they didn’t teach you at art school. She had my book, and she was thinking of artists she wanted to invite to be part of the show. So that opportunity came through that way. And then, but I’m also doing a solo show. See, the thing is that the beginning of the year, there’s always like, Oh, I don’t know if I’m going to have any shows this year. And I’m doing five and two, we’re going to overlap. So you know, it’s it’s always that sort of buy because they’re invitations and I also I did I have booked a space at a gallery in Deptford that I specifically wanted to just use before I knew all these other projects were going to come up, but it’s still great. So they can just purely concentrate on as I say. My, my installations are modular, so although they’re like lots of steel structures, so there’s like endless possibilities. So I just want to be able to go and play somewhere for, you know, a week and invite people to come and see the work and talk about the work really so. Yeah, so Maybe it’s by invitation, or I put in a proposal. So, next year, we’ll be going back to art house one. And my partner’s an artist, and he’s, he’s a collaborator, so to speak, not in making the work, but in the specific thinking about the work. And we’re going to kind of work on a proposal together for a gallery, hopefully, in sort of Mexico or South Paulo, where you have some contacts. So we’re sort of planning Yeah. Hopefully. Yeah. I mean, it will be a long is it you know, when you put in a proposal, it’s, you might be looking at something in two years time, and then the times things pop up, and you just say, yes,

Iva Mikles  

it kind of works that way. And so what is the most exciting project right now, or maybe something which is coming up?

Rosalind Davis  

Um, lots of exciting projects. I mean, the ones I’ve just told you about, I’m excited by all of those. And shows coming up at Kali Brister gallery where I work we have a show on at the moment called strange lands, which I’m very excited about, even though it’s on, it’s on for another couple of months. It’s until October, and then we’ll be having a new show in October. And I’m just putting that together now. So that’s exciting. So all of those things are exciting. And hopefully, getting a new studio so that will, yeah, people be exciting eventually. So yeah, it Yeah. So

Iva Mikles  

and how do you do like transitions between different roles? What do you have? Is there like a different way of thinking when you are like jumping from one role to another?

Rosalind Davis  

Um, I think what I find, I mean, I try and have routines as much as possible. So the thing of like, they’re not being really a fixed kind of week, but usually Saturday to Monday, where possible is Studio day. And then, yeah, it depends. Yeah, it depends. Really, I try and try and compartmentalize different things and work to different timescales. But I mean, the headspace is very, very different. Making work to curating or teaching. It’s just a different headspace. And it’s getting that headspace really, and that kind of, for me, a calm place, really, and kind of shutting off things like social media and the rest of it so that it’s a bit uninterrupted. So, you know, try not to take the computer to the studio or whatever, to try and make sure that I’m unavailable. And I think as well, there is within that sacrifices that you have to make, I think, if you want to work hard at it, so I don’t kind of go for Sunday lunches with friends of the power, which I see as I go to the studio, like, you know, that kind of thing is, you know, not that I don’t ever socialize, but I mean, there is a limit, actually, as well, in terms of what I can do. And I kind of realized that too. And, you know, that’s fine. And people get it. I mean, you know, I just tell people, I’m going to work, you know,

Iva Mikles  

that’s just what it is. Yeah, different priorities.

Rosalind Davis  

Yeah, yeah. Which is nothing to say there’s anything wrong with other priorities. It’s just how I kind of have had to be very dedicated and very committed, you know, to those things, and that means that, yeah, you do sort of lose some of those other pleasures, but you get your pleasure in your work. So that’s kind of for me as well. Making Work is challenging, but in the in the sense of an intellectual challenging, but it’s also very, very relaxing in the sense of creating something is and it’s very, very it’s exciting. And it’s, it’s, I feel a lot wonder about it, really. So I think, you know, that kind of Trumps the Sunday lunch thanked me.

Iva Mikles  

And what would be your self talk when you are deciding between different projects or among, like, different proposals when you have to say no to some project? Like how that looks like?

Rosalind Davis  

Yeah, I mean, I think when deciding on what projects when it’s an exhibition, it’s kind of weighing up what the exhibition is about or for, and, I mean, there’s something that I think with exhibitions is usually yes, unless it’s going to cost me a lot of money. For example, like if somebody says to me come and have a show, and we’re all going to pay 300 pounds, that’s just not something I can do. And I I’ve said no to those kinds of things as much as I admire People wanting to get together and I’ve done it myself. And, you know, we’ve shared costs, as curators and artists have to put on a show, just things like you need to have, like, professionals. But anyway, it’s more like saying, everything every project I get, I was really thinking like, well, what will I learn from this? What will I gain from this, so I kind of think about exhibitions, in terms of a project of, you know, as a way to develop new ideas to create new networks to kind of keep reminding people I exist that already have relationships with the networks with an opportunity to kind of teach and learn. So I kind of, I look at those possibilities. So I recently just came back from Edinburgh where I was part of a Greek show there. And, and one of the things I had to so I’m in London, and one of the things I had to weigh off is could I go, because I guess I could send my work, but that doesn’t feel like a valuable experience. And there’s terms of what I would gain from it, yes, it might, they could send me a couple of nice pictures. But so it’s really important for me to be present at those things. So that was a thing. And I said to them, Well, I have to look into whether I can afford to go because it doesn’t, it’s not the same if I don’t. So those are the other things that you kind of consider. And it’s a whole new. So for me, it was like it was a great space. But it was a whole new group of artists, I didn’t know it was a range of artists, it was artists working in architecture. So it was really valuable experience, you know, and it’s four days, but that was plenty, you know, it was great. So it’s those sorts of things, other projects work like teaching and things like that. Which I love to do. But really, it’s like a question of whether my time is being valued, and my expertise. So, you know, I have been in situations where I’ve negotiated my fee, because I kind of know the value of of the things that I can teach. And so, you know, and that’s been really positive, you know, because I think it’s really important as artists, that we don’t work for free, and all that there is a reasonable exchange of skills. So some things I will do for free, because it’s an exchange, and it’s a partnership. But I won’t do like teaching a workshop or anything like that for free anymore. I did at the beginning. But you know, and so you just say I’m really sorry, it’s just not sustainable for me to do this, this and this for 80 pounds an hour, you know, yeah,

Iva Mikles  

for sure. And then if you think about like people when they think, Oh, wow, this is really cool. I would love to do this, how would they you kind of advise them to start?

Rosalind Davis  

To Yeah, I would say start by being professional and being proactive and doing your own thing. So setting up your own exhibitions or, and start kind of building networks. Understanding, you know, the art world that you want to be part of, or whatever creative world you want to be part of work hard. Say thank you for everything. Say thank you, even if you don’t feel very particularly grateful, say thank you. And it’s a large part of what I teach to try and teach new graduates and students and stuff is that as a curator, and somebody that’s worked with a lot of artists, not enough people say thank you to either the artists, yeah, either to the artists, like I can’t remember, you know, there’s there’s various things where it’s an artists where people don’t say thank you for your work, thank you for coming, or, you know, thank you for all your hard work. And it goes like way, like, again, as a curator, and as a teacher. You know, people don’t necessarily say thank you. So I think, you know, being really enthusiastic, and to anyone, for example that you’ve worked with, and they want to work with you again, that’s sort of how I’ve built my career. And I put in a lot of time, and thought into my teaching into the things I say. And so taking time and consideration over things and seizing opportunities, but making opportunities as well. And kind of weighing up, you know, again, something that you might do as a skill swap or something that you might lead to learn in order to kind of improve your own sort of career or whatever it may be, apply yourself. And social media as well is a big part of building careers, you know, as artists, as curators in so many fields to be honest. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And do you think like, because you went to a really great school as well? Do you think someone can become like fine artists as well or kind of what is your take on you know, the brick school education versus like online classes or like self thought or something like this?

Rosalind Davis  

Yeah. I think there’s possibilities for all of them. I think I think you don’t have to study at art school to be an artist at all. I mean, I’ve shown quite a few artists that haven’t trained as artists, but have our artists, you know, and interesting that, you know, the notion of an art school is really not that old. It’s quite a contemporary ideas that were 100 years ago, they weren’t really asked. So, you know, or even 60 years ago, for example. And so it’s not necessarily I mean, I was looking at the work of the artist Nam Garbo, and he was an engineer. And so, you know, there isn’t, it’s, you know, what you do need to do if you don’t go to art school. And in a way, I kind of feel like I had a bit of a different tack of an experience of an art school anyway. But here’s the kind of create networks, find somebody that will teach your mentor you. And, you know, I say to people hear when they say, Should I do an MA, which is, I don’t know, 10,000 pounds a year? And I say, Well, how about for one year, you find 10, great artists, and, you know, reasonably, they’re not so Uber that you’re not going to get an email, but I say, I would love to have a tutorial with you, and how much would that cost? And we’ll do an hour. And you know, like, pick, pick that education yourself, I think you really have to have input, and from not just your friends, and not just your family, or, you know, oh, well, my friends like it, and not even artists, friends necessarily, like you need that critical distance. I think you need to go and see art, and, and, and not just like big institution arts, but like, go and explore different parts of your community and see what’s there and then go to anything you can like talk artists who work or things like that. And I think, you know, you know, supplement it with, you know, a kind of skills workshop, or whatever it may be. There’s lots of opportunities, but I kind of think you can build that kind of education if you apply yourself to it.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because I think it’s really good idea as well, if you can find yourself a role model, either the person is teaching at a school, or he’s like separate MPT artists, and then you can contact them and see how they can influence you. So you can build on your skills. I think that’s amazing.

Rosalind Davis  

Yeah, I mean, I’m a mentor, as well. And it’s been, I really enjoyed that aspect. So I’ve been working with an artist for about three years, and really great to see her kind of developing and growing and gaining in confidence really, as well, and kind of, you know, seizing opportunities, and really listening to the things that I’ve said, which is helpful.

Iva Mikles  

And so what was your, like, best advice you ever received during your career?

Rosalind Davis  

Well, that would be Freddy Robbins saying, you have to hold on. And it takes time. And growing Crowley saying, it’s a job, you have to go to work you every day, you know Monday to Friday, or whatever it is, it’s a job and you have to go. It’s not kind of something that you kind of wait for the motivation or the inspiration to seize you just go go to work. And it’s a job. Great job. But you know, it is a job. So kind of, and that was really helpful, because I kind of have revert revert it anyway, as a kind of profession, I suppose. And it kind of demystified it all. Really? Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And that whatever the worst advice if you can share some story, maybe even

Rosalind Davis  

the worst prices. Yeah, you could sell loads of prints of that work. And then you spend money on the prints and you don’t sell them. So that’s kind of it really, I think, you know, that’s the worst advice. Really. Yeah, I’ve mainly had very good advice. And even I can’t remember, if it’s really bad advice. I think I just forgotten it, I think,

Iva Mikles  

yeah. Can you maybe share as a like a worst moment of your art career? And what do you learn from it?

Rosalind Davis  

Yeah, the were the worst moments. There’s been a few, I think. But it’s much more about it’s not about sort of, oh, I had an exhibition, it was awful. Because I think even the worst things you can learn from like, Oh, I just will never work with that person again, or you know, I will never show in that space again. So there’s nothing like that. It’s more that I suppose when I about kind of two years ago having a bit of a kind of courses, I suppose about what am I doing? In the sense of If I just I wasn’t sure what I was gonna make, and I didn’t really know what I was doing with my work and I didn’t feel inspired. And sort of thinking, Well, you know, what’s the point is just another painting world, or whatever it was. And feeling quite low, yeah, about it all. And but then what I did is I drew loads, I drew loads of structures and elements, I saw an artwork, by constant, he’s a, he was an architect, but became an artist. And it was this structure, and it just kind of really struck me. And I drew it, but then I drew like, loads of different versions of it and flipped it around. And I didn’t know why. I was just like, I’m just doing drawings. I, my partner, he was very, very encouraging. And he was, you know, I really enjoyed the drawings. And I, you know, I like the drawings looking back. But out of it, eventually came these steel structures that I work with now. And I think the the difficult thing about being an artist is kind of having, not necessarily the obviously it’s unstable and unpredictable, but you don’t always know what’s around the corner with your own work, and you have to hold steady, I think, you know, hold on. And, you know, I would do things like this, Donald jobs, quote, which is actions to relate to oneself, which is what every artist should look at, if they’re ever stuck. So it’s a list of things to do. So to cut to pleat to, you know, and so I would look at that list and think, what else could I do on that list? So I didn’t get through the list, but it was just a nice thing to have in mind. Like, you don’t have to make a meaningful piece of art. And you know, there’s a sort of the balance really like, feeling, sometimes you can feel overwhelmed by the by all really, I think I just had a moment. And I think you just have to hold on, because we all hit those walls from time to time in our careers. And you think, you know, what do I do with this all? Or, you know, so I think that was, yeah, more so than anything sort of external. It was more internal for me.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And then you basically overcame it with, like, just practicing more and just like doing what do you enjoy, then? Kind of going on with that? Okay.

Rosalind Davis  

Yeah, yeah, I mean, yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And how did you kind of, is there something you wish you knew before you transition from textile design and patterns to find out and paintings?

Rosalind Davis  

I wish I’d known more about alternative careers, I suppose then just a sort of very kind of direct, you should work with a gallery sort of way. And so that was kind of self educational. I mean, yeah, everything I wish I’d known at art school, or before I left art school is in a book I wrote called, what they didn’t teach you in art school. So there’s everything I wish they taught me a school, really, you know, and that’s not a criticism. It’s just that, you know, like, I wish had been taught more about social media, or that it wasn’t so kind of big as it is now, does it? Because it was sort of 10 years ago. But yeah, I mean, I was fairly pragmatic in any case about I would need to build my own art career. So how do I do it? And, you know, ask my mentors, you know, and so yeah, I sort of, there was a lot I didn’t know. It’s probably best, I didn’t know some of it as well. Like, you’re gonna be doing a lot of admin all of your life. And you’re not going to be just in the studio. Yeah, I think those things. I mean, I think the wonderful thing in the secure, circuitous route that I’ve taken, is that I wanted to be writer and I am. I wanted to be an artist. And I am, I mean, that was obviously the first thing. But also curating is is kind of a really wonderful kind of vocation and job that I have now as well. So it kind of gets to do all these nice things and learn but learning along the way and evolving and adapting and seeing what I like to didn’t like about my own experiences and how I could improve upon

Iva Mikles  

them. Like the variety as well in the work and like everything combined. And maybe going back to some of your project as well. How do you combine your incomes or what is your main income and kind of what do you live from?

Rosalind Davis  

My main income is from curating Cali barista Gala. So I’m I’m freelanced for them, but I get paid a fee. And so that’s my main income. Thankfully. And then the the rest of my income is made up of teaching. And so I teach short courses. I do lectures at different universities or galleries or arts organizations, I sometimes do consultancy on social media and communications, because I use that a lot. And, and very occasionally, I might sell a painting. That’s really like, you know, I’ve sold paintings over the years, quite a few in the collection of work that I have. But it’s a very unpredictable income. And it’s very, you know, rare, in a way. Yeah. So it’s, it’s not painting. Yeah. Oh, yeah. And then the book. Yeah. So we, yeah, that was a commission. So we were commissioned by octopus to write the book. So again, these kinds of interesting projects will come off, and somebody will say, you know, write the book and give you some money for it, which is great. I think we will eventually get royalties once we’ve sold. However many more fat I don’t know how many sell. But yeah, I’m not kind of like waiting on, like, there’s gonna be this huge check every year. But it’d be nice if there’s a little check. And it’s doing very well. So you know, hopefully, yeah. But it’s, I think, as well. I’m not like, commercially driven. And I am more and more trying to kind of draw back from some of these paints, things I’m offered because of the headspace. And I know, I’m very lucky to be able to do that. And there’s certain things I’ll always do, like, I could be working even more at certain things because I get asked, and actually, I need to just keep some space. Like the balance of sustainability, with finance and brain are important to me. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And would you also like you have your book? And are you planning to do more books? Or maybe also some other books you can recommend for people to read? Like, this is something you would give as a gift?

Rosalind Davis  

Yeah. No, I’m not planning on writing another book. No, at this stage. I think that’s I mean, the books I would recommend. There’s the curators handbook is good. That’s by Adrian George. There’s also a book called City racing, that’s very interesting book, it’s about an artist led space, sort of in the 70s. And that’s really good philosophically. And there’s a John Berger book about being a painter is a fictional book, but it’s really encapsulates the life of an artist. I mean, it’s quite dark. It’s quite sort of, you know, what you do with success? You know, and all those things. And then for pleasure, I’d say, the hair with the amber eyes by Edmund wall, music and silence by race to Romania, the kind of gifts things I give to people.

Iva Mikles  

They need to put it on my list, because there aren’t any of them. So. Yeah. And is I don’t want to hold you like too long, because you’re cool, because I want to ask you as well about the future, where would you like to be in five years? Or what would be like a dream scenario?

Rosalind Davis  

Um, I dream scenario. I mean, it’s kind of, you know, when when you see the questions, I sort of think, well, my dream scenario I kind of have, I have the job. So love. I have amazingly talented partner and collaborator, I have a home, hopefully, I have a studio, which that will be changing and, you know, to be working maybe a little bit more internationally, just because I’m very interested in sort of the context of my work in other countries, particularly in sort of places like Sao Paulo or Mexico where female artists have a much more respected than they are in the UK in the kind of field that I am in which is geometric and quite a lot of abstraction and concrete art and constructivism, and I think they’re really respected in those countries, whereas in London, we’re much a is predominantly male dominated area. And so it’s quite it can be feel like quite a closed close book, I suppose. So, you know, I So I just would like to be able to be someone where they’re more open and more excited and proud that a woman is working with steel and abstraction. Really? Yeah. So that would be the kind of dream scenario, which is not really a dream, because I think you can make that happen. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

that’s really cool. Because I heard from some artists as well, when they imagine this dream scenario that they can actually paint it or draw it. You know, it was also on one of the TED talks, that you kind of like you visualize it, and then kind of it will become true.

Rosalind Davis  

Yeah, yeah. I mean, that’s true. I mean, I think, you know, you pick yourself and you pick the things that you want, and you try and go towards those things. So you know, but you kind of have to make sure you’ve got enough experience to get them. Maybe, like the time thing, take us a while, like, you know, so, yeah. And

Iva Mikles  

maybe also, when you have it in the back of your mind, then when the opportunity comes, then you know that okay, maybe this is the one I should take.

Rosalind Davis  

Yeah, I think name is another piece of really good advice that a gallerist gave me called Carry hands. And she said, You have to be ready to walk through the door. And I think that’s true of any projects. And if you’re not ready, and you fumble around and you fall out in the door, or we you know, it’s kind of about your reputation, but it’s also being ready, like being able to be articulate of being able to be professional, you know, all of those things. Really kind of matter.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, yeah, for sure. And when you are putting together like exhibition, how do you choose artists? Or what are you looking for?

Rosalind Davis  

When I’m curating exhibitions, I’m looking at artists that fit within a theme usually. So I work for you magically. So with Kali Ristic, gallery, I also worked site specifically. So as the gallery and law firm, so the context I take is what happens in the law firm and all the different laws and the things that might go on. So, you know, the gallery and compasses meeting rooms where people will meet the clients, and then they’ll be talking about whatever they need to resolve. So so the first show was called complicity, that I did there. And it was about artists kind of working with our space solution, whether that was special illusion or a painterly illusion. And so there was like a room FX tradition, which is much more about a kind of a spiritual expedition and sci fi and there was a room for divorce and infidelity. But very subtle, like, you know, it wasn’t sort of in the face. And so I kind of work I like to work with the narratives of the space for Collyer, Bristow gallery, for example. And so it will be looking at so I have a huge library in my brain of artists that I’ve worked with that I’ve mentored that have taught that have taught me that I’ve met through exhibitions whose work I’ve you followed or looked up. So I’ll go and see shows, not just sort of established artists, but artists led and all these things. And I’m also part of a lot of different kinds of artists network. So I’m part of an organization called the undead painters. And we meet every six or so months, and it’s an opportunity for me to see other people’s work and hear them talk about it. So it’s a real range, you know, of artists that I kind of put together. So and then I also there’s artists that, that I really like working with as well, that I kind of work on sort of independent projects. So Sasha balls, Justin Hibbs. He’s my partner, up Gjakova, Gibson, Martelly, whose work kind of has a sort of a similar I guess they’re not similar in aesthetics. But we have kind of really interesting conversations about form. And I really enjoy working with him because it’s all very collaborative. So I’ve kind of We’ve done projects before, and we’ll probably do more again, where we work together on a group show. So it’s, it’s two different things. And we also, I used to run open competitions. When we ran, I was like, I started projects. That was a really great way to discover artists and then I would go on and I’ve worked with them again, on other shows, and we do want to call the RISD gallery for three London art school. So that’s another way of discovering artists because there’s you can’t get to everything was the means people get an opportunity to sort of submit their work to you so you can see it. So they’re really valuable and I’ve been in them and you they’ve been valuable for my career. So you just have to also weigh up what the opportunity is and and how you might maximize that opportunity. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

definitely. That’s really cool. Do you also look online or it’s mostly in person, like are there any places you can find artists which would fit exhibitions as well?

Rosalind Davis  

And usually, no I don’t, I don’t sort of, I know so many artists, I don’t need to kind of, I guess randomly search. That’s not what I’m really doing is quite a focus sort of approach. I mean, so it’ll be exhibitions I’ve seen or it’ll be. So I might look online catalog of an exhibition I seen like, so there was the mom I prize, which is an open court competition in London. Well, the UK rather. And so I’d been to see the show. And when I was selecting works for this current show called risk to galleries, strange lands, I was looking for particular kinds of art artists in particular kind of artwork. So that was one of the places I went to look back and look at some of the artists because I’d remembered them. And so that will be more why I don’t just sort of, are they saying that what it would say is that I have shown artists who I’ve met purely through like Twitter, and Instagram that I’ve gotten to know. So the kind of online and then meeting in person, and those artists have been become my network. So there is that, but it’s, it’s not like I’m looking for the work there. It’s more that we’re having good conversations. And naturally, you then look at people’s websites and stuff like that, and look at their work. And, you know, I would also say, for artists, it’s very much a kind of long game, for example. So for I’m planning exhibitions a year in advance, almost, it’s the long game sometimes. So I, I’ll have somebody’s information in my head, and I’ll be waiting for the right show to put them in. So I guess it’s the artists sort of wondering why they’re not being picked or, you know, is that they might be being thought of. And so in the interim, you know, make sure that your website’s up to date, and you having some sort of presence on social media that you’re following that curator, or that gallery, or whoever it is, that you want to work with, and you kind of subtly building a relationship that way. And, you know, and also, sometimes you’re waiting for the work to develop. So I’ve known artist for a long time, and they’re fine, you know, they kind of hit something that you see that their work has matured in a certain way. And so you’re kind of waiting for those times as well. So you see promise, or sometimes, you know, show very promising artists as well for that. But yeah, so it’s sort of don’t despair, but just kind of keep on being active and going out in the world and picking yourself as well.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, I think that’s really cool advice that they can find also some galleries or exhibition they like online, and they can research if there is like a physical exhibition they can be part of, and build the relations like this. I think that’s really Yeah. Yeah, I think we can talk about this for hours. But the last question I would like to ask you, it’s like, what would you like to be remembered for?

Rosalind Davis  

As being somebody that helped artists, whether that was through teaching or through an exhibition? Yeah. So I would hope that that would be something I’d be remembered for.

Iva Mikles  

It’s really nice. And I’m really happy that you join us here and help inspire young artists.

Rosalind Davis  

Oh, well, thank you. Hopefully, I’ll inspire somebody out there and help them. Even if I haven’t met them, come and tell me on social media, if this has helped you.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, then it will be super nice. And if you have like parting piece of guidance, before we say goodbye.

Rosalind Davis  

I would say I would say be the change you want to see in the world, which isn’t me is candy. But I think whatever that thing is not that you’re going to change the world but you changed your bit of the world to try and you know, make a space that’s nurturing and curious and exciting. And you know, treating everyone well be kind. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

so thank you for that. So I’m really thank you so much, again, for taking time from your busy schedule. And thanks, everyone for joining and be kind to another is Ellen generis and also inspire each other.

Rosalind Davis  

Yes, I agree. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure.

Iva Mikles  

Hope you guys enjoy this interview. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode at artsideoflife.com. Just type a kid’s name in the search bar. There is also a little freebie waiting for you. So go check it out. If you enjoy this episode, please leave a review on iTunes, hopefully five stars so I can read and inspire more people like you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to Art Side of Life podcast, because I post new interview every single workday. If you want to watch the interviews head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube. Thank you so much for listening. Don’t forget to inspire each other. And I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

Announcer  

Thanks for listening to the Art Side of Life podcast at www.artsideoflife.com

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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