My New Role

This story starts in November of last year. I had just completed my MA in Art History and Curating from the University of Birmingham. I had been looking at a job application for a part time receptionist position at a firm of Auctioneers in Birmingham. I really wanted to work in Birmingham, as in the twelve or so months of study at the Barber Institute I had fallen in love with the city – I don’t know why, but I had, so decided to apply for the post.

On the following day I had a reply inviting me for an interview and to meet the team on Friday. OK. Was I nervous? Obviously. Train up from parents’ house in Cardiff first thing in the morning, whirlwind morning meeting the team, train back, head full of thoughts. The following week I receive an email.  Start Wednesday at Biddle & Webb? Happy, if somewhat overwhelmed girl!

My first degree is in Art History, and I studied this in Aberystwyth – a beautiful seaside town with an impressive art school.  Two highlights – I get to curate an exhibition, and I get to meet one of my favourite artists. My dissertation was The interpretation of Dylan Thomas’ prose and poetry through visual art, and Sir Peter Blake (best known for co-creating the sleeve design for the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) had just exhibited his interpretations of the radio play Under Milk Wood. I meet a book dealer who is a friend of Sir Peter, told him of my work and he said that Sir Peter would be really interested – give me your email address and I’ll ask him if he’ll meet you. OK. I thought nothing would come, but then an email, then a visit to Sir Peter’s home and studio in London, tea, and the most incredible afternoon you could imagine – his love of and works surrounding Under Milk Wood are both spellbinding and profoundly moving. Things in your life you’ll never forget? Tick!

One other thing at Aber: I knew my academic journey was not over. I had researched lots of Masters Degrees and applied to do a Masters at the Barber Institute at the University of Birmingham. The offer arrives, I graduate from Aber and in September 2016 moved into Coronation Road, Selly Oak with three other post graduates.

The Barber Institute is a fantastic place to study, and an equally fantastic place to visit. I had a placement at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry, and with my course mates we had the opportunity to curate our own exhibition at the Barber, More Real than Life, borrowing works from National Portrait Gallery – another great experience. My Dissertation, The Dada Tour of Holland: The coalition between Theo van Doesburg and Kurt Schwitters, was about the hardest thing I have ever done, and in October I drove up from Cardiff to have it bound and submitted at the University. Driving back to Cardiff with my father we stop for brunch. What next? said Dad. Well, I would really like to work at an Auction House. A few weeks later I heard that I’d got a Merit in my MA.  Job application sent.

My first day at Biddle & Webb and straight in at the deep end. Meet all my new colleagues at saleroom in Ladywood and the new consignment office in the Jewellery Quarter – two things: everyone is SO professional (and nice!) and everything is SO busy – still people make time to make me feel welcome and I know I am part of a great team. Every day presents new challenges, and there is always someone I can turn to for help when I need it. My main tasks are reception, cataloguing and helping with administration at our VERY busy auctions – hundreds of lots have to be processed and sold at least once a week. The things I have enjoyed most so far are meeting so many great people – colleagues and customers, and the sheer variety of things that pass through our doors every week.  My ambitions are to learn more of valuation and build up the skills so that I can have my turn on the rostrum, then move my career forward. I KNOW I could not have picked a better company with which to start my career.


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